It’s a big clash tonight down in Leicester between second and third in the BBL both Leicester Riders and Esh Group Eagles Newcastle look to chase down the London Lions with the league series head-to-head also on the line, writes Jeff King.
Second-placed Riders have won six straight league games, whilst the Eagles have won four of their last five in the league – all at home. This time it’s on the road for Newcastle but they should have no fears as the last time they travelled to Leicester at the end of December they took a superb road win by 76 – 69.
Eagles assistant coach Ian Macleod is looking forward to the game and in his preview, he reflected back on a great night’s work last Friday when the Eagles demolished Glasgow Rocks 83 – 66 in an impressive performance. They’ll be looking to take the confidence of that game in to tonight’s encounter.
“The most pleasing parts of the performance was primarily at the defensive end. We held them to 66 and I feel we dealt with their off-ball movement very well.”
“The second point would be we played with the right intent throughout, it was by no means a perfect performance, if there is such a thing, but our cohesion towards our approach was excellent. We talked about wanting to put our stamp on the game early.
“The first few minutes went well and although they got back into the game, that start was the bedrock of our performance and gave us confidence as they game grew on.”
There was certainly a real positive feeling around the camp after that win especially coming on the back of a good week of practice and then putting practice in to reality on the court. But Macleod knows that the team and the coaching staff can’t rest on their laurels with such a tough game in prospect.
“As a coaching staff we were delighted with the application and execution of the players last weekend. But we aren’t patting ourselves on the back just yet. More consistent, more energetic and, ultimately, continued winning will be the yard stick with which we judge ourselves.”
“I think we turned a corner a couple months back and have made strides in our approach as a team. We want to be hitting our peak around playoff time and we must build towards that.”
Having seemingly made their new Arena their home after four wins in a row at The ECA, Macleod knows they need to carry that form on to tonight when the sides go against each other in what is always a much anticipated and fiercely fought rivalry.
But Macleod was quick to point out there are no special plans or changes planned for the team’s approach to their task. The Eagles will be at full-strength and know a win in this encounter will really boost their fortunes and position as they look towards the business end of the season.
“There are no secrets. They know us, we know them. It will be a war of attrition and we must ensure we are relentless tomorrow night.”
The game tips-off at 7:30pm and will be shown live via the BBC Sport app and website for any Eagles fans that can’t make the game or make it to the Eagles Community Arena where it is also being streamed live for anyone that can get along.