The Newcastle Eagles head to Cheshire today to face The Phoenix in a blockbuster of a first leg BBL Trophy semi-final. They travel in great heart after Friday’s stunning 108 – 97 win over reigning BBL Champions London Lions at the Eagles Community Arena.
Many fans and pundits felt it was perhaps the Eagles best all-round team performance of the season on Friday and it’s difficult to argue with them as they put in a great forty-minute effort. After losing at Worcester the week before it was exactly what Newcastle needed before this afternoon’s game.
There were many highlights on Friday. C.J. Gettys dominant performance, Mike Morsell’s mature effort and as usual Rahmon Fletcher pulling the strings to drive his team forward. Plus, there was the well-hidden secret of the return of Rodney Glasgow Junior to the black and white.
Glasgow Jnr’s well documented administrative difficulties have been an ongoing source of frustration for the Eagles hierarchy and him but finally they are all sorted and his boost to the roster was palpable for all to see.
It wasn’t just his 12 points and 6 assists; it was his mere presence and basketball intelligence and the freedom he brought to the rest of the team that counted. He was a delighted man at the final buzzer.
“It feels great. We just wanted to come in and set a tone. We knew it was a big game that’s why it was a sell-out to see it. They’re a pretty good team, well coached, very physical. I knew going in we matched their physicality we were going to win the game.”
It certainly was a quality game of basketball for a capacity crown to enjoy and both teams showcased the best of The BBL in a great contest where Newcastle really made their mark with an excellent third quarter.
“We just had to lock in as defensively is our identity and that’s where we hang our hat on. We got about four or five stops in a row and that leads us into our transition offence and we know no team wants to go against us in transition.”
One of the biggest reasons that Coach Ina MacLeod and his players would be delighted to see Glasgow Jnr back in the ranks for is his link-up with Fletcher in the backcourt.
“That was the plan at the start of the season for me and Fletch to be a one-two combo. He’d bring it up then I’d bring it up and we’d play off each other. What that does is free C.J. and Mike up tremendously.”
“It means that teams can’t double up on me, they can’t double Fletch or Mike or C.J. So, you’ve got four or five weapons that means as an opposition coach you don’t know what to do because of the way we play and the number of possessions we have where we can score.”
It was a great win and thrilled the capacity crowd who were very vociferous in their appreciation for the home team’s performance. But, today is another tough one and a different prospect as the team contemplate taking on Cheshire Phoenix.
“You can’t underestimate Cheshire as they’re a well good team. They’re hard to beat and have some real tough players especially at home where they can make a lot of tough shots. We’ve got get prepared, lock-in and look to take care of business.”
There’s no doubting that this evening’s game is another crucial one in Newcastle’s season and whilst a win is definitely the aim and what they would love. But it is a two-legged semi-final and whatever happens the tie won’t be decided until the return leg at Newcastle.
Today’s game is free to watch on the BBL’s YouTube channel.