Newcastle Eagles go into this afternoon’s BBL clash against Surrey Scorchers looking to bounce back from Friday night’s 92 – 87 loss at Worcester Wolves.
With Plymouth Raiders winning at Bristol on the same night to confirm a third place finish it means the Eagles can finish no higher than fourth and need one more win from their two remaining games to cement that position.
They are also looking to avoid a series sweep against a Scorchers side who are desperate to take a third league win over Newcastle as they battle for the final play-off spot. Eagle Head Coach Ian Macleod previewed today’s game by starting with the loss against the Wolves.
“I can’t say there’s any defeat that doesn’t disappoint me and on Friday. We could have won it with our offence and should have won it with our offence. But our defence was what cost us the game. Too many individual errors, mental lapses and lack of focus and at key points as well.”
“We played too many possessions at 75% and let ourselves down at the end of them. To comfortably score 87 points on the road should really always put us in a position to win a game but not when you don’t play defence it doesn’t.”
With the Eagles leading by six at the half they had the momentum in their favour and then on the opening play of the second half they drew a third foul from Worcester’s influential Jordan Williams that sent him to the bench. That should have been the moment for Newcastle to strike.
“We planned to attack Jordan from the off and it worked beautifully but unfortunately we went down the other end and Evan (Maxwell) picked up his third foul and nullified the plan. From there we just didn’t do enough defensively to deserve a win.”
Today’s game is therefore far from a dead rubber. With Surrey having to win to keep their play-off hopes alive and the Eagles needing one more win to be certain of fourth place there’s plenty on the line for both teams.
“We definitely owe them one after losing twice at their place but I actually think there’s three or four teams on that list of teams we owe one too. The key will be our defence. This is no different to the Leicester game where we came off a poor defensive effort against Manchester and turned it around.”
“It’s also the same as when we came off a poor defensive display against Surrey and turned that around with a great performance against London. When you do it against Leicester and against London it proves to yourself that you can do it. It’s about putting that into fruition.”
There’s little doubt in Macleod’s mind that it’s the inconsistency of his side that has been their downfall this season. Too many times they’ve lost a game they should have won and that has stopped them challenging for the regular season Championship.
“The frustration is you look at what could have been. There are four games which come to mind. The Manchester one where we were up fifteen going into the final quarter, Plymouth away where we missed 23 three’s and still only lost by a point. The first game at Surrey and the game against Sheffield which even without Justin Gordon we should have won.”
“I’m not saying we were in total control in those games but I do think we should have won them and if we had then you’re looking at a totally different position and scenario for today’s game and our finishing position. We would have been right up there at the top of The BBL.”
Unfortunately, the Eagles aren’t and they now need to look to ensure that they go into the play-offs with the right momentum. They’ve been without Darius Defoe in the last two games and their defence has suffered as a result. He was missed hugely at Worcester.
The veteran forward will suit up today but it may well depend on how the game flows as to what minutes, if any, he plays. Macleod is hoping his teammates can give his defensive lynchpin a bit more recuperation time with those end of season play-offs looming in less than two weeks.
This final home game of the Championship season is available to watch live on the BBL Player.