Durham Wildcats v Newcastle Eagles
Sunday 30 December 2012

Newton Aycliffe LC (16:00)

There’s a north east derby at Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre on Sunday 30 December when Durham Wildcats and Newcastle Eagles meet in the BBL Trophy first round.

A home tie against either Worcester Wolves or UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders awaits the winner, so there’s all to play for in the north east.

The teams have already met in the BBL Championship early in the season with Eagles strolling to a 99-75 victory, and Newcastle also won all five games between the teams last season on their way to a clean sweep of the four pieces of BBL silverware.

With that in mind, Wildcats’ coach Dave Elderkin is in little doubt of the size of the task facing his side if they are to progress to the Trophy quarter-finals: “We were never really in the game when we played them early in the season, and we’ve had plenty of other chances to scout them this season.

“I feel like I know Kareem Maddox very well having spent two months trying to persuade him to play for the Wildcats in the 2011-12 season. Known more for his defence and rebounding he can get on the scoreboard while Damon Huffman is a solid point guard and seems to be lighting it up from beyond the arc as well as bringing the consistency to point guard role that Fab felt the team needed.

“Everything has been said already about the core of the team. Chapman has looked impressive, Darius [Defoe] is teaming up well with Kareem inside and Charles [Smith] is Charles. They used to say Larry Bird only needed half an inch to get a shot of, Charles is not quite there buts it’s probably no more than an inch – he’s just uses his body really well to create his own shot out of nothing. And then there’s Fab, I bet he’s relishing the freedom that having Huffman at the point gives him.”

Newcastle player-coach Fab Flournoy also has a good idea what to expect against the Wildcats: “We played Durham a few months ago at home and again it was notable that they have a team which is packed with perimeter scorers. Mike Baldarelli, Brad Guinane, Keith Page and Ralph Bucci [pictured] can all score the ball from virtually anywhere on the court. We just need to maintain a commitment to defence throughout the 24 seconds of the shot clock.”

Eagles’ guard Joe Chapman also expects a tough game against the Wildcats: “We’ve got to be ready to play, they play a different style to us, but it’s always a competitive game. They’ll be up for it, we played them pre-season and there was a big crowd. It’s a big rivalry, that’s getting bigger.”