Newcastle Eagles will go into tonight’s WBBL Championship clash hoping it’s not going to be an after the Lord Mayor’s Show occasion as Manchester Mystics come to town hoping to cast a spell over the home side.
A week ago third-placed Sheffield Hatters came into the Vertu Motors Arena boasting an impressive 7 – 2 record and looking for another win to keep their top four challenge going.
They left with a 7 – 3 record after Eagles produced a stunning second half performance to blow the Hatters away by 75 – 53. It was an unexpected win but a well deserved one and one Head Coach Noelia Cacheiro’s team must build on.
With Manchester rooted at the bottom of the WBBL with no wins and eleven straight losses, Cacheiro will be expecting her team to build on last week’s result and performance and consolidate their play-off place as they look to move higher.
The star of a very good all-round effort from Newcastle in the win was Antoinette Lewis whose 19 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals earned her the starring position in the WBBL All-Star Weekly starting five. Lewis spoke immediately after the Sheffield game.
“That felt really good especially after coming off that big loss against London. We were in practice focusing on us, trying to be execute and be focused on our principles. To be able to do all that on court in a game and get such a great win felt really good.”
“I felt our energy particularly on the defensive end turned the game around. We were letting them get too many second and third chance opportunities. Once we locked that in it allowed us to dominate at the offensive end and we really executed well.”
One of the big bonuses for Newcastle was that although they were without captain Marina Fernandez they did have Abby Lowe, Courtney Clasen and Zoe Willis who all missed the London game back on the roster.
“It was nice to have a pretty solid rotation and obviously when we get Marina back as well it’s really going to help. You need that rotation and ability to change things and going forward that’ll be nice.”
Lewis has been superbly effective for Newcastle since coming in and is averaging an incredible 18.3 points and 11.6 rebounds a game. But for the American forward it’s not about her and her statistics.
“I just want to win. I typically don’t care about my stats. It’s more about what I can do for the team to help them win. What I need to do is be disciplined and focused and try to dominate for the full forty minutes and it seemed to work.”
“I was really proud with the way we played. We didn’t let our foul count get to us and didn’t allow their aggressiveness and emotions get to us. We stuck to our game and I was so pleased with that.”
That level of performance, commitment to execute, togetherness and discipline is something Lewis feels her teammates and her need to carry forward against Manchester and right to the end of the season.
“Having extra bodies helps as it all starts with practice. If we can come in and compete every day in practice and make it harder for each other in practice than it is in games that will be key for us.”
“We have the talent and we have what it needs to push on. Now we just have to go and prove it to everyone. We’ve always felt we had a game like this in us and we have to carry that forward.”
“That’s the goal. That’s what we’re hoping to do. Some teams might have looked at us before Sheffield and thought we were an easy pass. What we’ve showed and what we have to do is show them that playing 40 minutes against the Eagles will be tough.”
“We have to ignore Manchester’s record as we did Sheffield’s. We need to concentrate on us and do what we have to do and make sure we pay them respect but continue to focus on building and improving.”
Tip-off at the Vertu Motors Arena tonight is 7:30pm and tickets are still available from the box office in advance or on the door.