Back-to-back Molten BBL Player of the Month CJ Gettys is out of this weekend’s homecourt double header.
That’s the news every Newcastle Eagles fan feared as Ian MacLeod’s men go in search of a vital league win and a place in this season’s BBL Trophy final.
The men in black host Surrey Scorchers at the Eagles Community Arena tonight before entertaining Cheshire Phoenix in Sunday’s Trophy semi-final second leg.
But Newcastle will have to negotiate two tough fixtures without talismanic centre Gettys as the US star continues to nurse an ankle knock.
“CJ is probably another week or two away and so he won’t feature this weekend,” revealed MacLeod.
“He continued his rehabilitation in America last week and he’s making progress but this weekend has come too soon.”
Gettys added January’s BBL Player of the Month award to December’s prize and the former Phoenix star has been in phenomenal form since returning to the BBL.
But MacLeod must face another huge weekend without the popular American – as well as guards Drew Lasker and Eddie Matthew.
Newcastle’s back court back-up had forced their way into the Eagles’ starting five prior to suffering ankle injuries of their own.
And MacLeod admitted: “It’s frustrating. We’re at the end of February and I still haven’t been able to pick from a fully fit roster.
“We waited for months to get Rod [Glasgow Jr] back in the mix and as soon as he’s back three of the other guys have gone down with injuries.
“But we’re not alone in that respect. Other clubs are facing the same challenges and we go into this weekend with what we’ve got – which is a team itching to get back on court after such a poor performance at Leicester.”
The Newcastle camp has been forced to reflect on that heavy defeat at the Riders for two weeks as a result of the BBL’s latest international break.
And the Eagles are desperate to get their season back on track with two wins that have the potential to breathe fresh impetus into a topsy-turvy campaign.
“Our lack of consistency is not a physical thing – it’s a mental thing,” insisted MacLeod.
“We never thought we were world beaters when we won big but we never thought we were the worst team in the league after the Leicester loss.
“We have to be careful that we don’t get too high after the victories or too low after the defeats.
“We don’t want to be dominated by those mental peaks and troughs. It’s about managing those emotions and focusing on the small individual improvements that can make a big difference.”
Surrey head to Tyneside in eighth place but the Scorchers are only four points off fourth-placed Newcastle.
And MacLeod is wary of a side built on explosive offence as BBL action returns to the ECA after a three-week hiatus.
“Surrey are in the mix this season,” he added. “I’d be surprised if Manchester make the playoffs but every other team will feel they can do something.
“Make no mistake – the Scorchers can be a big threat. They score heavily and are capable of going off at any point.
“This weekend is an exception for us but, as a result of the reduced regular season, there are more weekends when teams only have one game and one team to focus on.
“Preparation time is longer and teams can do their homework on the opposition. Every side is ready, every week. There’s no margin for error.”
Tonight’s clash tips off at 7.30pm and Newcastle entertain Cheshire at the ECA from 5pm on Sunday.
Tickets for both games are on sale from the box office: