Esh Group Eagles Newcastle go in to tonight’s crucial BBL Championship clash against Cheshire Phoenix looking for a first win in three home games, something that is not supposed to happen to a Newcastle side usually so dominant on their home court, writes Jeff King.
Last week against London Lions, the Eagles slipped to a potentially league losing loss as the destiny of The BBL Championship was taken out of their own hands. Captain Darius Defoe reflected on that game before previewing tonight’s tough encounter.
“It was a really damaging loss of that there is no doubt. All our losses this season have been tough ones to take. That one really hurt but we have to keep our heads down, keep working and keep playing together.”
Barely 48 hours later and The Eagles were on the road in Manchester for a game they were expected to win and win they did by the impressive margin of 97 – 60.
“We came back, and we won well against Manchester. We had practised on the Saturday after The Lions loss and we were able to talk over a few things together so when we came in to the game on Sunday we put our thoughts in to action and it cam off and we got the win.”
It was a game that saw Defoe put in a Captain’s performance as he recorded a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds to help his team to the win and at the same time take his BBL points tally to within two of 5,000 in his career.
That should be a milestone he can complete tonight against Cheshire and to be able to do that in front of the fans he’s played so long for and be able to celebrate the achievement would make Defoe a proud man.
“Hopefully I can get that tonight. It would be a great achievement to get 5,000 points in The BBL. I’ve been here since I was 18 years-old and I’ve worked hard so it would be good to be only the second player in The Eagles franchise to get to that will be pretty nice.”
“But the big thing is to get that win in front of our own supporters and restore some faith. We’ll take any win whether it be by one point, two points or whatever, why have to take that win.”
“I don’t think we’ve ever lost three home games in a row under Fab (Flournoy) so that’s the most important thing, to get that win and then we can discuss the 5,000 points afterwards.”
Once again, The Eagles will go in to tonight’s game without the services of American Power Forward Terry Martin. That adds even more responsibility to Defoe’s shoulders as he looks to help his team.
Add in the fact that once again Eagles face two weeks without a game following tonight’s encounter makes it even more imperative that they go in to a break they’d rather not have on a winning note.
“I’d rather be playing every week than having a break but that’s the schedule and you have to live with it but that’s why we need to get that win s it’ll be easy to have a break knowing you won last time out.”
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle - vs -Leeds ForceSport CentralBBL Championship
“It’s not extra responsibility as we just play together and keep it going. It is unfortunate that Terry is out but injuries, it’s a sport, it happens. We just have to forget about it, keep grinding and make sure we get that win tonight.”