It’s another daunting weekend for Esh Group Eagles Newcastle as they travel to London for back-to-back games against Lions and Royals hoping to put on a Capital show and return to Tyneside with two crucial BBL Championship wins.
Newcastle head south though full of confidence and in great heart following last weekend’s superb double-winning outing when they beat Cheshire at home in The Championship by 96 – 94 and then Leicester away in The BBL Cup Quarter-Final, 90 – 84.
Head Coach Fab Flournoy was delighted with those two wins which is were he started his preview of the weekend’s games.
“It was always going to be a tough weekend for us so I was pleased to get the two wins particularly when you consider the styles of both teams. You had one team who were extremely athletic in Cheshire who play with a real pace. I knew we were going to struggle a little in that basketball game.”
“I thought it would help us in the long run if we could get through that game with a win as it would help give us some momentum. In the Leicester game we faced a team that was big and had played tough games in Europe and the fact they play real physical.”
“I think it helped us in particular having played both teams earlier in the season. After knowing them it gave us the opportunity to adjust the pace of the game as it was two different paced games. We had to get our heads around that so we did really well in getting those two big wins.”
But, as Flournoy knows, there’s little time for rest and reflection in The BBL and tonight he takes his Eagles in to the Lions den to face a side that is sitting pride of place at the top of The BBL.
“It’s going to be a tough one. We have the travel down on the day which is tough as you have to get off the bus ready to play and they’re going to be laying and waiting. They’ve put a talented side together and they’re playing really well at the moment and beat Worcester twice last weekend so they’ll be ready.”
“Pace is going to be important. Whether we establish it early and maintain it. We have to make sure we don’t let them get off to a good start. The start of the game is going to be crucial for us in particular playing on the road. “
“Against Cheshire last week at home we got off to a poor start but being at home we were able to have an opportunity to get back in to the game. Starting slow on the road against a home team is like shooting yourself in the foot and we might not be able to recover from that.”
The Eagles have actually drawn Lions in the two-legged BBL Cup semi-final, a tie that will be played in a fortnight’s time but Flournoy doesn’t see this as a dress rehearsal nor it having a big effect for his team on tonight’s game.
“I can’t speak for Lions but for us it doesn’t matter. We only look at things one game at a time. It’s just the next game up. You start looking at what’s down the road whether it’s Cup, Trophy or League instead of what’s in front of you that’s going to get you in trouble.”
“A bird in hand is better than two in the bush as my Momma used to always say.”
The Eagles will stay over in London after tonight’s game to prepare for Saturday’s trip to City Royals, a team they demolished 110 – 60 earlier in the season at home. Flournoy is expecting a totally different game this time against The BBL’s newest franchise.
“The first time we played them we weren’t as good as our score indicated and they weren’t as bad as their score indicated. It was somewhere in the middle. I do believe though they will be firing on all cylinders and ready to play in that game.”
“I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be a revenge game for them but it will be a game that they’ll be relishing the opportunity to perform better than they did the last time. We’re looking forward to going back to playing at Crystal Palace for that game.”
“Crystal Place is one of the older established venues and has a real history in our league and it’ll be nice to go back to such a historic venue after a long time away.”
So, once again, Newcastle face another crucial weekend which could have a pivotal effect on their season. But, from the sounds of it, Flournoy and his players are ready and looking forward to the challenge.
Watch both games live on LiveBasketball.tv with a BBL Season Pass for just £49.99 for all the action through to the Play-Offs.