NEWCASTLE Eagles coach Fabulous Flournoy insists his side’s recent trend of overtime wins will bode well for play-off success this season. In recent weeks, Flournoy’s roster has done it the hard way. Their last three league fixtures have required energy-sapping periods of overtime to close out games against Everton, Guildford and Milton Keynes.
However, Flournoy is adamant their new found trait of grinding out wins in the closing periods of games will prove beneficial as the league champions enter the play-off phase.
‘We’ve made it difficult for ourselves in the last couple of weeks,’ said Flournoy. ‘That’s why winning the league was so much more enjoyable. We haven’t been playing all that well but we’ve been battling for everything we’ve got.’
‘Battling for every pass, every turnover, every point. But we have been playing well late in the game and that’s what you need in the play-offs. That’s a good thing to be doing well at the moment because after Sunday it’s a one-off situation. We play against Everton or Worcester on Friday and if can’t get it together then it’s the end of the season for us.’
The Eagles will finally get the opportunity to lift the league trophy in front of the Metro Radio Arena crowd this Sunday before their clash with the Sheffield Sharks. But the uncompromising player-coach insists that the celebrations are simply a prelude to a vital final league fixture.
‘I think the celebrations are important for the city to show off and be proud,’ said the BBL veteran. ‘We have not had the opportunity to display it on our home court yet and that’s because we have been on the road so much. We won it on some else’s floor and it meant we didn’t get the chance to lift it in front of the fans.’
‘I’m looking forward to that but we want to make sure we remember we have an important game as well. It will be all smiling faces and festivities for about 20 minutes before the game but then we will get our serious faces on.’
The Eagles continued to limp through the season without the services of Charles Smith and Jeremy Hyatt who both persevere in their fight for fitness. The pair picked up training time on Thursday night but Flournoy is still unsure that role they still have to play in the season – if any.
‘Our injuries are still the same,’ said Flournoy. ‘Charles and Jeremy played in training but it has been so long that it is hard to tell what sort of effect that will have on them. I don’t know if they can play in the play-offs. It’s a good sign that they’ve played a full but that might have knocked them back. It’s baby steps for both of them.’