The Newcastle Eagles still need to win their last two BBL Cup North Group games against Manchester Giants to ensure qualification for the competitions quarter-final stage.
But, following their 69 – 76 home loss on Friday night against Leicester Riders their chances of a home tie at that stage are all but over.
It was another disappointing night for Head Coach Ian MacLeod’s side who had led 41 – 35 at half-time. Leicester though came out with an 11 – 0 run to start the second half and from their controlled the game to take a deserved win.
French forward Sade Aded Hussein was still optimistic after from what is worryingly Newcastle’s third consecutive defeat leaving their season at 4 – 4 in the cup group at present,
“It was a tough, tough loss but we can still take some positives out of it. We’re in a better place than last week against Sheffield. We have this last quarter at home thing that we’re just missing and making some bad decisions. So that’s what we’re going to work on.”
“Leicester match up very well against us and played tough defence. They have the size, the weight, everything but I think we should still have won especially at home. We weren’t afraid off them and like I say it’s on us.”
“We’ve got to work on our stuff particularly on offence in those last five minutes. It’s something we have to work on. We’ve played plenty of games now and it’s something we’ve identified so now we have to fix it.”
Whilst Hussein highlighted the end of the game and his side’s failings to close out the game, there’s no doubting that the start to the 3rd quarter was the momentum swing that really changed the complex of the game.
“We were plus 6 at half-time and talked about it. It’s become a bit of a bad habit for us to start slowly after half-time and we were really focused to come out really strong but we just didn’t manage to do it and they took advantage.”
The Eagles have two games against Manchester to finish off the group stages. The Giants have only registered one win in the competition and that at the expense of a forfeit from Glasgow Rocks who fielded ineligible players. It might be the chance for the Eagles to turn things around.
“It could be a perfect opportunity for us. We’re going to go back to practice and work on whatever is wrong with us in that last quarter. We’ll do a lot of video with Coach and try to see what’s wrong.”
“I think it’s good the way we lost as it’s going to help us fix it. We didn’t lose any energy or fight I just think it was more tactical I guess because the guys were still going really hard. It should be easier to fix it than when we played against Sheffield as we were just not engaged in that one.”
It’s clear that this Eagles side is still building and has lots of talent. They are being hampered by the non-availability of Rodney Glasgow through passport issues but, two wins against Manchester and they will still be in the BBL Cup and with a quarter-final to look forward too.