The Newcastle Eagles return to the court for BBL Championship action down in Sheffield tonight to take on arch-nemesis Sharks at Ponds Forge.
Sheffield have held the Indian sign over the Eagles so far this season winning all three clashes that have taken place.
That includes two wins in the BBL Cup Group stages and one on the Eagles home court at the Vertu Motors Arena by 86 – 77. The Eagles are going into tonight’s game looking to reverse that trend and stop Sheffield from taking the head-to-head in the league series match-up.
The last time Newcastle were in action was almost a fortnight ago when they went down to a 103 – 94 defeat at London Lions two days after Head Coach Ian MacLeod’s men had prevailed at home against Manchester 113 – 111.
Macleod was philosophical about the break between games and looking forward to getting back down to business.
“We’ve had a few injury issues so in one sense it is good to get a break, but I felt we have played some good basketball the last couple of games so it’s always a balance between rest and momentum.”
“We’re ready for a game after the break as that’s what we do it for. Not to train, to play. We are raring to go tonight and looking, naturally, for a good performance and a win.”
As already mentioned Newcastle have played Sheffield three times this season and lost all three times. So, what are the adjustments MacLeod’s men have to make to put themselves in a position to target a win?
“I’d say that the teams are very different to previous matchups. There’s new personnel, new tactical approaches etc etc. The focus will be on getting the win tonight not what happened in the previous meetings. I think if our defence is aggressive and we are in sync it will be a huge key for us.”
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster season for the Eagles so far with injuries, red-tape issues, late arrivals, personnel changes and COVID issues all playing their part in disrupting their flow.
It seems as if every time they get a settled period something else comes along and knocks them back. It makes tonight’s game as important as ever against one of their closest rivals in the BBL table.
“Every game we play is crucial right now. We need to get on a roll with wins and not worry about head to heads or league placing. Wins will take care of those.”
“We’ve shown some better signs in recent games and our offence is free flowing right now but yes we would like to tighten up defensively. That will be a big focus for us vs Sheffield.”
MacLeod alluded to changes in personnel and Sheffield have made quite a significant change this week. Point guard Aaron Anderson leaving the Sharks and being replaced by Antwain Johnson who was at Bristol. That could definitely make a difference to the dynamics of the game.
“They are two very different players. One more calculating and risk averse and Johnson is coming in to score. More will rest on our ex-player Rodney Glasgow to run the team now so it will be a different dynamic for sure.”
The game down in Sheffield is scheduled for the usual 7:30pm tip-off and should be an intriguing and close-fought encounter that both sides are desperate to win.
The game is free to watch on the BBL Player with registration.