Esh Group Eagles Newcastle v Plymouth University Raiders
Where and when:
Sport Central, 7.30pm Friday 12 February
Any possible notion of an Esh Group Eagles Newcastle collapse was quashed last weekend, although Plymouth Raiders will pose the next challenge on Friday.
After back-to-back BBL Championship defeats, Eagles returned to form, despite the absence of Fab Flournoy and Darius Defoe.
The champions overcame Worcester Wolves at home in the BBL Trophy Semi-Final first leg before thrashing Bristol Flyers on the road.
Raiders also recorded an important triumph, however. Daryl Corletto’s men defeated BBL Play-Off rivals Leeds Force, for what could turn out to be a key success at the end of the season.
Both teams are in action again on Sunday too. Raiders travel to Scorchers in the league as Eagles play the return leg of their Trophy Semi-Final.
Last time they met:
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 97 Plymouth Raiders 77 (BBL Championship, Sport Central, 18 December 2015)
Eagles: WLWLWW
Raiders: WWLLLW
Three Points:
  • Eagles have won the last nine meetings between these teams, a run stretching back to October 2013
  • Joe Chapman is five assists short of 500 in the BBL Championship
  • Raiders’ Daryl Corletto is leading the BBL in scoring with 19.7 points-per-game
What they say:
Eagles guard Joe Chapman: “They are getting a lot better. Since Daryl Corletto became coach they have been playing well. He has a great system, like Fab he is a player-coach and very smart.
“He is a lot like Fab in the way he runs his team and how he calls plays while he is on the court.
“They are playing better since he brought in the newer players and they are working hard and playing together.
“The league is getting better and teams have been improving each month like Plymouth, Sheffield. It’s good for the league.”
Raiders player-coach Daryl Corletto: “Sunday’s game against Leeds was a massive win for the team and the club as we now have the head-to-head against Leeds.
“I have told the guys that every game from now on until the end of the season is like a grand final for us. They are all must-win games.
“It is a very exciting way to play out the rest of the season, I have encouraged the group to look at the standings as I feel this will make them realise how close the teams are.
“The guys’ mind-sets are great right now and I really do feel we can make a run at these Play-Offs.
“Newcastle are a very well coached team that have the whole playing group buying in and believing in what they are about, their culture and team rules are set in place.
“I know I always look forward to these games so I’m hoping the boys enjoy this challenge. With Newcastle you have to compete for the whole 40 minutes otherwise you will get destroyed. I have a lot of respect for their players and coaches.”
Worcester Wolves v Esh Group Eagles Newcastle
Where and when:
University of Worcester Arena, 3.00pm Sunday 14 February
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle’s difficult path to back-to-back quadruples takes them back through Worcester on Sunday.
Worcester Wolves inflicted the all-conquering Eagles’ first defeat since April 2015 at the University of Worcester Arena last month.
But the champions went some way to avenging that reverse with a 73-66 BBL Trophy Semi-Final first leg success in Newcastle last Friday.
Wolves will aim to overturn that aggregate advantage on Sunday, off the back of a Friday night date with Sheffield Sharks in the league.
Eagles are also in BBL Championship action before this game, hosting Plymouth Raiders on Friday.
Last time they met:
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 73 Worcester Wolves 66 (BBL Trophy, Semi-Final first leg, Sport Central, 05 February 2016)
Wolves: LWWWLW
Eagles: WLWLWW
Three Points:
  • Eagles’ Charles Smith led all scorers with 17 points in last week’s first leg
  • Eagles have reached the BBL Trophy Final in eight of the last 11 seasons
  • Wolves won this competition in 2014, their first-ever piece of BBL silverware
What they say:
Wolves forward Ben Eaves: “I think it’s going to be about small adjustments but we are confident because we knew we should have given ourselves a chance to win but they edged us in the final quarter at their place.
“It’s always weird in the two-leg series because teams have their eye on the score but if we attack like we did when we played them at home we should be in the driver’s seat coming down the stretch.”
Eagles guard Joe Chapman: “You approach it by going out and playing each quarter as its own game and try to win each quarter.
“We’ll ignore [the first leg lead]. That’s how we are, we are a veteran team, we know seven points is nothing as a team can get that back in a minute. We’ll just try to win each quarter and look to close out the quarters well.
“We’re a couple of guys down right now and the other guys are stepping up and playing real well.”