They say one man’s misfortune is another man’s gain and that has certainly been the case for Esh Group Eagles Newcastle’s locally produced shooting guard Eddie Matthew in the last two BBL Championship games.
As Fab Flournoy’s high-flying Eagles have stuttered to defeat against both London and Sheffield due to major injury concerns, Matthew has probably had his two best games of the season taking advantage of his extended minutes.
But, the player who first made his senior Eagles bow back in 2012 as a raw 16-year-old and is now 23 recognises that it’s that time of the year when the long season’s toils can have an effect on a roster. He’s hoping that he will get more significant minutes in tonight’s home game against Surrey Scorchers.
“It hasn’t been ideal these last couple of games as a team with so many key players injured and I don’t like losing but I do like playing so it’s a bit of a mixed feeling for me personally. It is though about the team and we want to win as many games as we can.”
“We’re likely to be a couple of players down again tonight against Surrey but we still have seven or eight guys fit, ready and available and we have to all step up together and look to get back to winning ways. We need to find some rhythm as a team as we know we have the play-offs coming up.”
The Eagles have guaranteed themselves a top three finish for the 15th consecutive BBL season, a remarkable achievement. But there is still one piece of silverware up for grabs and Matthew and his team-mates have their sights set on that.
“The Play-Offs are definitely the focus right now but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to beat Surrey or indeed lose any of our last three games. We can use them games to get things right mentally and prepare ourselves for what lies ahead.”
Newcastle under Flournoy have always had a next game up mentality and the Head Coach always ensures his players go in to every game with a belief that they can win and move on to the next game with confidence. Matthew knows that feeling.
“For me it’s nice to play and the more you do the better you feel and it can get you in to a rhythm and feel you’re contributing. I’m pleased with the way I’ve played in the last two games but it was disappointing to lose those games.”
“What I’m hoping for tonight is a chance to play some more meaningful minutes but this time in a winning team and play my part in helping us get back on the winning track. That’s important for us.”
Surrey may be bottom of the table but only last month they took Newcastle all the way to overtime on their own court before losing a close game in the extra five minutes. Matthew knows they are not a push-over despite their lowly position.
“They are a tough and talented side and gave us a really hard game down in Surrey. We’ve talked about their strengths and weaknesses and we’ve watched them on film. They’ve lost a lot of very close games which could easily have gone the other way so we know they’re going to be ready to play.”
“We need to focus on what we need to do and play our game. It’s probably fortunate that we only have one game this weekend and it’s at home. We might have struggled if we’d had another double-weekend to play especially if we’d been on the road.”
“It would be nice to get a win and then have a couple of days off resting up. We can then come back on Monday and prepare for what’s ahead. Hopefully we’ll have some of the guys back fully-fit for that. A win tonight would be the ideal boost for us all as we look to have a good run at the Play-Offs.”
Tonight’s penultimate BBL Championship home game at The Eagles Community Arena tips-off at the usual time of 7:30pm.
Tickets are still available: