Although it’s still relatively early days in the race for the BBL Championship the Newcastle Eagles really need a win tonight down at Leicester to keep in touch with the top of the table.
Newcastle thought they had turned a corner in their season after winning tough games against London Lions and Cheshire Phoenix but then seven days ago their thoughts were blighted by Bristol.
The Flyers came into the Vertu Motors Arena having never won a BBL game in Newcastle. They put that record to bed with a stunning 73 – 55 victory that left all at the Eagles re-thinking those turning corners thoughts.
Head Coach Ian MacLeod’s final thoughts on the Bristol game still held firm a week later when starting to preview his team’s task as they prepare to take on Leicester.
“The Bristol game was a combination of poor shooting and ball security not being good enough. We’ve had a chance to look at it again and discuss it as a group. It was a bad combination of errors after such a positive weekend the week before.”
But, in basketball things move on quickly and MacLeod was already thinking about the task ahead against Leicester Riders once the Bristol game ended. The Riders have once again put an impressive strong-looking roster together for this season that has started well.
They’ve won all five of their Championship games this season and also won down in London last weekend against The Lions by three points in their away leg of The BBL Cup Semi-Final. One of those five wins was the first BBL Championship game of the season back in October.
On that night Riders prevailed 100 – 77 with six players netting double-figure contributions including their top two scorers Marc Loving who averages 18 points a game and floor-general Geno Crandall who is scoring at 17.2 points per game.
Crandall, the reigning BBL MVP, also adds in 7.6 assists per game and one of his favourite targets Captain Darien Nelson-Henry will be back in the Riders roster following injury. Newcastle hope to have Louis Sayers back in their ranks although Daniel Johnson-Thompson looks likely to miss out.
MacLeod knows it will be another tough game but he also knows his charges want to show that they can compete at the top of the table and are looking to get back on track.
“Practice and preparation for the game has gone well and we hope to bounce back at the first opportunity. Daniel has had an MRI and we are yet to determine what the length of his rehab will be. We’ll know more in the next 48 hours. Louis should be recovered from illness.”
“This game tonight is about synergy and execution. We lacked urgency and flow in our offence last time out so that is something we want to improve. After this game we play at home against Cheshire on the 28th so we want to be going into that game focused and building on a good performance.”
“We have a three-day break over Christmas but other than that we will be in practice and working hard to improve. That process hopefully starts tonight.”
The game at the Morningside Arena tips off at 7:30pm and will be shown live on Sky Sports Mix (free for Sky customers) and free for all on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.