Bravehearts Newcastle will play through the pain barrier and battle hard as the beaten up Eagles bid to overcome their biggest test yet.
That’s the pledge from playcaller Marc Steutel 48 hours out from Friday’s crunch quarter-final first leg clash against champions London Lions.
Newcastle’s head coach hopes the mental boost of making the BBL playoffs will help numb the physical pain felt by a roster that fought tooth and nail to keep its season alive.
But as Steutel steeled himself for more bad news ahead of today’s midweek roll call he revealed his energy-sapped Eagles are braced for one final effort.
“To get this far has taken its toll on the guys during the last two weeks,” he admitted. “The minutes they’ve played and the effort they’ve put in has been at a cost.
“This week is all about how fresh they’re able to feel going into the first of two games in four days against the best team in the BBL.
“But I think it’s going to have to be something serious for these guys to rule themselves out.
“They might be sore and they might be exhausted but they’ve put so much work into getting this far.
“When the adrenaline kicks in and we hear our supporters roar then I’m sure we’ll be fine come Friday.”
One player who seems certain to miss the cut is Hasahn French after the US star fell awkwardly in Sunday’s season-extending win at Plymouth.
Anxious club bosses are still awaiting the final results of scans on the powerful forward’s left knee but Steutel is planning for London without his leading rebounder.
Javion Hamlet, who missed the last two games of the regular season with an ankle injury, is another major doubt for the men in black.
But Steutel will give the league’s leading scorer every chance to suit up against the Lions as he seeks to shake things up against the top seeds.
“I wish I could say that Javion will definitely play but it really is day to day with him,” added Newcastle’s coach.
“We hope that he has a chance given that he’s had some recovery time during the last two weeks.
“We’ve had to make some tough decisions where Javion’s concerned but those decisions might just pay off.
“We have a different offensive look with him in the team and he brings different elements to the table. It’s just a waiting game with Javion.”
Steutel is fully embracing Newcastle’s underdog status heading into a two-legged clash heavily weighted in London’s favour.
After watching his side come so close to defeating the Lions at the Vertu Motors Arena last month — albeit with a fully fit French and 30 points from Hamlet — the Eagles playcaller remains quietly confident of causing an upset.
And he added: “We’ve got a free swing against a fantastic club.
“We’re all determined to give the best possible account of ourselves against the most talented team the BBL has ever seen.
“I’m going back as far as watching Cheshire Jets as a kid and I can’t think of a better team in this league.
“They have stayed motivated and disciplined from day one and the level of integrity they’ve brought to this league every night is a credit to their coaches and the organisation.
“People outside of the Eagles won’t give us a chance against the Lions but a few weeks ago nobody outside of this group thought we’d make the playoffs.
“The atmosphere will be electric on Friday and I want to make sure we give our fans every reason to get behind us one more time.
“If we get into an early rhythm and shoot the ball well then who knows?”
Tickets for Friday’s Vertu Motors Arena clash (7.30pm tip) are available from the box office.