Esh Group Eagles Newcastle go in to tonight’s crucial BBL Championship match-up with Worcester Wolves, tip-off 7:30pm, on the back of a tough week where three road games saw three defeats, writes Jeff King.
But as Assistant Coach Ian Macleod previewed tonight’s game he explained that the team was far from down on themselves and were looking forward to returning to Northumbria University Sport Central and their own fans.
“We’ve had a couple of days rest and two good training sessions and the spirit is great. We’ve had a chance to look at some video and see some areas we need to improve, but also what we did well and hopefully can continue to do well. The guys are excited to get back on the floor.”
With Head Coach Fab Flournoy not even able to get to practice let alone games and Eagles other assistant Dave Forrester not available for the last two weeks, Macleod has been in sole charge of the coaching reins and is in the best position to comment on last week.
“We did some good things. I think most people expected us to go to Leicester, especially, and then London, and just roll over. Well, we had Leicester for three quarters and barring a heroic 5-minute period from Tyler Bernadini, they were in trouble.”
“London was a similar situation. We showed that even short-handed we can cause teams problems, we just need to continue to search for consistency.”
After such a tough road week Macleod and the players are looking forward to showing their own fans that there is a lot to play for and they will have an additional bonus to look forward too as well.
“The fans that did manage to watch the last two road games, will no doubt agree that we are playing better basketball l think, and now we have to show at Sport Central that we are still fighting for this season.”
“Plus, we’ll have Fab back amongst us too and that will help although, we are such a close knit coaching team that no-one is ever really absent. But, he’s back at training and is, as always, raring to go.”
With London Lions now breathing down The Eagles necks in the race for a high play-off seed tonight’s game seems one of those must-win situations. Macleod though feels it’s equally as important to the team as it is to their league position.
“Getting the win is important, but it’s important for us. We know how much hard work we have put in and there are no moral victories for us. We lost those road games and now we need to perform for 4 quarters to justify our hard work.”
“We need to be locked in defensively and perform as a unit. A unified display with all players working together will see us through. The offence will take care of itself, we have such talented offensive players, it’s our team defence that needs to be our focus.”
A few tickets remain for a game that was originally scheduled for last month before the “Beast from the East” blew in. What Macleod, the rest of the coaching staff and the players want is to show that the Eagles are the beast from the North-East that still have sharp talons.