Newcastle Eagles take on Manchester Giants tonight in a sold-out crucial BBL Championship game as they look to kick start a run towards a play-off berth.
It’s a match up against a side that contains ex-Eagle legend Rahmon Fletcher and opposition that the Eagles have already lost to twice this season.
This time they need to stop that run and look upwards as a second consecutive season without a play-off place is almost unthinkable for such a storied franchise. Newcastle come into the game on the back of last week’s Trophy loss at Caledonia.
That ended their interest in the BBL cup competitions this season and only left the league to concentrate on. A fact that GB International guard Kyle Johnson is very much aware of.
“We were disappointed with the result in Glasgow. It was a knockout game and we definitely wanted to move on so it was disappointing to lose. But I’ve already moved past it and am ready for tonight’s game and that has to be our mentality.”
“Our goal now is the play-offs. At the end of the day that’s all that’s left for us to make the play-offs and try to finish as best as we can. The first half of the season obviously hasn’t been what we wanted.”
“But I definitely feel we were getting better towards the new year and second half. We’re going to give everything we have and try to have a positive second half of the season.”
There was yet another change to the Eagles roster before last week’s game with fan favourite Justin Gordon flying in for his third spell on Tyneside. He only got into the country 24 hours before the game in Glasgow and didn’t effect the game.
But he’s now had a week to acclimate with his teammates and Johnson is excited about the latest signing.
“It’s always good to get someone in that has a lot of experience in the league and he has a lot of experience with this club as well and knows everything about the club. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him.”
“The trophy game was his first match with us and he hadn’t had a chance to practice with us but he’s had a good week and he’s looking forward to getting out their on the court and competing with us.”
One thing that could work in Newcastle’s favour tonight is the fact that in both defeats against The Giants this season Johnson didn’t play. He hadn’t arrived before the first game and he was injured for the last. That could help sway a tough matchup for his side.
“I haven’t played against them yet so I’m looking forward to the game. They have a bunch of very talented guys, guys that have been in the league for a few years and some good new recruits to the league.”
“I know it’s going to be a tough game and we have to protect home court. We have a strong group ourselves and every night we feel we have a chance of winning every game so we’re looking forward to putting that out there on the floor.”
There’s no doubting that with Kyle Johnson ready and in the line-up it increases the Eagles chances and he’s ready for the challenge.
“I feel fit, I feel good and definitely ready for the rest of the league play. The second half of the season is here and I’m super excited and ready to move things forward.”
As usual the game tips off at 7:30pm in a packed-out Vertu Motors Arena tonight and the Eagles have got to be ready to swoop down and fell the Giants as they look for a crucial win that could help define their season.