A trip to Yorkshire followed by a visit from Lancastrians this weekend as The Eagles battle their own War of the Roses!
Matt Newby believes Leeds Force have nothing to lose ahead of hosting league leaders Newcastle Eagles on Friday.
Force split two high-pressure games last weekend, beating Durham Wildcats to climb off the bottom of the league only to return 24 hours later following defeat to Surrey United.
The reigning champions meanwhile were busy stretching their winning streak to 15 games, and reaching a fourth consecutive BBL Cup Final.
All of which means the pressure will be off the BBL newcomers come the weekend.
“The motivation is only heightened by playing the team at the top of the league,” said Newby.
“The motivation is there to do the best we can and keep the game as close as we can and look to pull a result out.
“We need to be real about who we are and where we are, and we don’t have anything to lose going into this game.”
That being said, Newby and his side do go into the game with something of a point to prove, and well aware what it will take to do so.
The Leeds coach added: “We want to prove that we can remain competitive throughout a game with a team of that calbire and we know that we have to win the rebounding game.
“We have to make sure that defensively we get our rotations right so we are not compromised by what is a very strong perimeter, in terms of their shooting game.
“We have to maintain our work ethic too. Our work ethic is very good and we weren’t missing that on Saturday night [against Surrey], we just weren’t very smart with the basketball and failed to exploit advantages that were created and we can’t afford that against Newcastle.”
Last time they met:
Newcastle Eagles 83 Leeds Force 66 (BBL Cup, Sport Central, 31/10/2014)
What they say:
Eagles guard Drew Lasker: “We are expecting them to play hard for 40 minutes.
“We know from watching film and playing them earlier in the season that no matter what the score is, what the situation is, they are just out there play hard.
“We have got to make sure we don’t get too comfortable or over-confident.
“We have to make sure we match their intensity.”
Drew Lasker believes there is ‘something special’ behind Newcastle Eagles’ 15-game winning streak.
The reigning champions and league leaders are out to extend that streak to 17 this weekend with a trip to Leeds Force on Friday before hosting Manchester Giants the following night.
Eagles’ advantage at the summit remains just two points, but Lasker insists the atmosphere is relaxed and free, the product of a strong squad that shares the load.
“We have a great team,” said Lasker.
“It is one of those teams where you do not have too much pressure on yourself as an individual because you don’t rely on one or two guys.
“It seems on any given night that someone different is stepping up for us so if one guy is having an off-night there is always someone to step up in.
“It is an awesome thing to be a part of, I have never been part of anything like this so it is definitely something special.
“Everybody is relaxed, just going out there and playing with a free mind, and that is the best way to play basketball – and whoever’s night it is, we just ride their coat tails.”
However, Eagles must ensure that their visitors did not enjoy such freedom on the offensive end on Saturday, with Giants possessing players that can hurt any opposition on their night.
Lasker added: “They have already beaten Sheffield and Worcester, and they can beat anybody on any given night.
“With Stefan Gill and Tin Tin (David Watts), and anyone of those guys, if they get hot, they can have 30-plus-point nights, especially Gill, if he gets hot he can hit shots from anywhere.
“We have to keep them of the three-point line and send them to our help defence.
“This a game where we will have to rely on our team defence, we are going to give up drives but that is where you rely on your bigs and help defence.”
Last time they met:
Manchester Giants 82 Newcastle Eagles 83 (BBL Championship, Wright Robinson College, 28/03/2014)
What they say:
Giants coach Jeff Jones: “Defensively they are extremely tough.
“We are going to have to play exceptionally well to be close. They are the one team we haven’t beaten since we have been back, but there’s is the sort of consistency we aspire to.”