Esh Group Eagles Newcastle returned to home comfort on Tuesday night with a thrilling and important win over Worcester Wolves at Northumbria University Sport Central, writes Jeff King.
Next up is another huge test tonight once again on their own court with the visit of fierce rivals Sheffield Sharks who defeated the Eagles the last time they visited Sport Central when they ended the home side’s BBL Trophy interest at the quarter-final stage.
In the Championship though it has been a different story as Newcastle have won both encounters thus far this season and will be desperately hoping to make it a clean sweep of the series and further cement their second place in the league standings.
Croatian forward Jure Gunjina reflected on both Tuesday night’s win and looked forward to tonight’s game with a clear message for his team-mates to build on what they hopefully started with the win over Worcester.
“It was a great win for sure especially after we had three road losses. It was probably the toughest week of the season with all the guys being out, our coach being out and his assistant too. We bounced back very nicely and hopefully we can continue that way tonight.”
Gunjina mentioned in his opening thoughts how tough a week those three defeats away from home had been but he himself probably had as good a week personally as he’d had in an Eagles vest upping his minutes, points and rebounds.
“I’m just trying to do my best every game as possible and this is the case of my getting more minutes with other guys being injured. I’ve been practising that way the last couple of months and it just turned in to a positive way to get it going.”
“In basketball having seven guys in the rotation for 40 minutes is really tough. It’s hard to get everyone on the same page. We had a lot of guys having to play a lot of different positions. It’s been tough, but I think we’ve just about managed it now.”
With Fab Flournoy returning to the side-lines but along with Darius Defoe still not fit enough to return to the playing ranks it’s going to be another tough night ahead for the short-handed home side.
“I don’t think there are any real easy teams to play against in this league. We just have to continue at the same pace talking to each other on the court, off the court and just trying to be together and try to get a win again.
As already stated this will be the fourth time Newcastle and Sheffield have faced each other this time but with the Sharks coming out on top in the last encounter it could be a revenge mission. Gunjina does not really see it that way.
“You could say we owe them, but every game is for yourself and every one is different. This is the BBL Championship and we’ll be trying to get that win to stay in second place, so we can go from a better starting position in the play-offs.”
“I think we have to stop Alexander from scoring as he’s their biggest scorer, but I don’t really think we should be worried about the other teams because we have enough talent to win. We have to take care of ourselves and not be too concerned about them and focus on getting that win.”
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