Friday 20 January
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle v Worcester Wolves (BBL Championship) 7.30pm
Worcester Wolves will be out to spoil the party on Friday, as Esh Group Eagles Newcastle return home with the BBL Cup in tow.
Eagles’ lifted the Cup for a third straight year on Sunday with an impressive victory against Glasgow Rocks and return to BBL Championship business at Sport Central, top of the table.
Wolves sit just outside the Play-Off positions, albeit with games in hand. Paul James will be keen to see his side produce a performance more reminiscent of the one that helped them eliminate DBL Sharks Sheffield from the BBL Trophy, rather than when they were beaten by Bristol Flyers last time out.
Word from the Wolves:
Wolves guard Marek Klassen: “We have games where we have made shots and blown teams out and others, like last Friday, where shots don’t fall and we make the game really difficult for ourselves. Staying positive, though, we just have to continue to get in the gym and learn each other’s games so team chemistry can be as high as possible.
“Newcastle are coming off a great win by taking the first trophy this season. We are watching film and seeing what sets will work best against their defence. Without giving too much of the game plan away, we just need to limit our own turnovers and have great communication on defence.”
View from the commentary box
BBL commentator Daniel Routledge: “It should be a good night given last Sunday’s result. It’s always nice to be at a venue when a team brings home some silverware, so I’m sure the Geordie faithful will be in good spirits for this game.
“Of course you always worry about a team who have just won a knockout competition and how they will react in the next outing, but interestingly Newcastle have a very impressive record post-Cup or Trophy success.
“Last year was the first time in BBL history they hadn’t won their first game after 11 Cup or Trophy triumphs – coincidently that defeat was at the hands of the Wolves.
“Worcester are a hard team to predict, I’ve seen them play really well, particularly in their TV appearances this season, but they’ve struggled for consistency, which I’m sure is very frustrating for them. If they can get it right, as they have in front of the BBC cameras this year, they are a handful, but Newcastle look in mighty fine form right now so it would be hard to pick against them.”
• Rahmon Fletcher scored 20 points and dished out six assists last time these teams met
• Eagles forward Orlan Jackman spent last season with Wolves
• Wolves’ Marek Klassen leads the BBL in assists-per-game, averaging 6.8