Sade Aded Hussein admits Newcastle Eagles need to sign off in style ahead of a five-week break in homecourt action.
Tonight’s BBL Cup showdown with Manchester Giants is the club’s last at the Eagles Community Arena until December 20.
And on the back of three home defeats on the bounce, a determined Hussein accepts the need for a powerful showing from the black and whites.
“Our last few performances at the ECA haven’t been good enough,” said the towering Frenchman. “We owe our supporters a big win.
“The fact that we’re already qualified for the cup quarter-finals won’t even come into it. We go into every match wanting to win.
“It’s been challenging in the last few weeks but it’s all good. That’s how we learn as players. That’s how we build as a team and that’s how we’ll get better.”
Hussein has become an even more significant cog in the Eagles’ wheel following the departure of forward John Mitchell this week.
But the mobile big man has settled seamlessly into his Newcastle role following an injury-interrupted start to his career on Tyneside.
“From what I’ve seen of our North Group games in the Cup I’ve come into a very strong and competitive league,” he added.
“I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far. There are some pretty good teams in the North and we’ve been involved in a number of close games.
“We’ve qualified for the quarter-finals but we must treat the Manchester game like any other match.
“It’s out last home game until December 20 so we need to sign off on a high and give our fans something positive to reflect upon.”
Victory is imperative for Hussein and his team-mates despite tonight’s clash being talked about as a dead rubber.
A convincing win is hugely important for a number of reasons – not least the fact that the Eagles face such a long wait until their next ECA fixture.
Relative inactivity during what is traditionally a busy time in the BBL schedule is hardly ideal.
But Hussein insisted: “We need to use the next few weeks to our advantage. As things stand we have a cup quarter-final and an away game at Plymouth in the five weeks following the Manchester game.
“That means a lot of time to work on our game and a lot of long weeks of practice.
“We will use the time well knowing that the schedule will be pretty crazy after Christmas.”
Interim head coach Ian MacLeod will use tonight’s clash to assess his options given the club’s decision to cut Mitchell.
But one consequence of the Bronx-based player’s departure is that Rodney Glasgow Jr will be able to resume his backcourt partnership with Rahmon Fletcher.
Mitchell’s exit frees up another American spot and MacLeod is expected to recall the talented guard ahead in time to face the Giants.
Tonight’s clash tips off at 7.30pm with tickets still available: