Newcastle Eagles cannot afford to look beyond the next play as the women in black return to the Vertu Motors Arena for the first time in seven weeks.
That’s the verdict of playcaller Noelia Cacheiro as the hosts prepare to take on former favourite Ebony Horton and her Sheffield Hatters tonight.
Newcastle took their eyes off the prize in Essex last weekend after failing to build on a positive first period performance.
And Cacheiro wants her new-look Eagles to double down on discipline and focus against one of the toughest teams in the WBBL.
“Right now I don’t even think we can take things one game at a time,” admitted Cacheiro.
“Even one quarter at a time is looking too far ahead for this team.
“The position we’re in we need to take things one play at a time and take stock of the situation.
“We can’t start thinking about the fourth quarter before we’re in a position to contest that quarter.
“Our targets need to be short term and we need to build some momentum.”
Newcastle have not won a game since January 8 and take on Sheffield on the back of a three-game losing streak.
Injuries, Covid cases and the departure of former coach Chris Bunten have combined to create a period of unprecedented disruption within the Eagles’ camp.
But Cacheiro is almost six weeks into her new role and the Spanish playcaller is relishing this weekend’s long-awaited home debut.
“After Essex last weekend it’s all about focusing on our own game and ensuring we come out of this weekend a better team,” she added.
“Can we put together and execute a game plan that fits the position we’re in and the players we have?
“I’m not looking at Sheffield, their record or the players they have.
“This is all about Newcastle Eagles and making progress step by step, week by week.
“The Hatters are one of the most difficult teams to play against in the WBBL and historically their style of play is tough.
“We know their identity as a team but what about our identity? This weekend is about developing an Eagles identity and discovering what type of team we really are.”
Horton’s surprise departure at the turn of the year robbed Newcastle of their most potent offensive threat.
And the all-action guard has taken no time settling into a Hatters’ vest despite averaging six fewer points per game for the South Yorkshire side.
Horton is, however, playing the same number of minutes (29 per game) as she did for the Eagles and hauling down an additional four rebounds each night.
“We’re playing Sheffield and not Ebony,” added Cacheiro. “We have to keep that in mind.
“I don’t know Ebony but I do know she’s one of several talented players in a Sheffield side that’s third in the league.”
Cacheiro will hand a late fitness test to guard Jessica Eadsforth-Yates, who celebrated her 23rd birthday yesterday.
But it looks like this weekend’s clash will come too soon for Wearsider Rachael Bland who last suited up against Durham on January 15.
Sheffield are likely to include former Team Northumbria pair Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee and Hannah Shaw in their line-up alongside in-form all-rounder Georgia Gayle.
Tonight’s clash at the Vertu Motors Arena tips off at 7.30pm and tickets are available in advance on the box office or on the door for just £6.