Newcastle Eagles have been alerted to Andy Thomson’s availability as they plot to mend their Wembley heartbreak.
Winning the most competitive BBL title race for years made it a successful campaign for the Eagles but Fabulous Flournoy’s men were left bitterly disappointed by their fourth successive defeat in a final.
That has left Flournoy and assistant boss Dave Forrester to consider changes to the roster despite their feeling that this group provided the best locker-room chemistry for many a year.
The dream scenario for the Eagles would be to re-sign Thomson, the 6ft 9ins forward who was a soaring success during his one-year stint three years ago. The Journal understands that possibility is currently being explored, with Thomson receptive to the idea of returning to Tyneside when his current deal with French club La Rochelle ends in the coming weeks.
That would be a huge fillip for Eagles fans and a statement of intent to the rest of the BBL, who have caught up with Newcastle during a year in which four other teams battled for the title and the honours were shared evenly. Big-scoring Thomson was the BBL’s player of the season when he was at the Eagles and was the perfect foil for Darius Defoe. His brother Stuart was an Eagle last season and is one of the players who Newcastle would like to retain this year.
As the dust settles on Wembley and play-off defeat to Worcester Wolves, owner Paul Blake has moved to clarify Flournoy’s own future after the player-coach hinted that he may re-assess his own position after losing in the capital earlier this month.
The Eagles player-coach is now heading back to America for a summer break but will be back to try and remould Newcastle once again. Blake says that Flournoy has indicated that he is happy to stay on and begin the process of building for another tilt at BBL honours.
“We have begun planning for next season,” he said. “He just needed a little breather after Wembley but we have begun the process of planning and I fully anticipate Fab coming back to the Eagles next season and that is what we’re planning for.”
The Eagles are currently finalising budget plans but Blake is promising a fund that will enable the Eagles to compete again.
Thomson would be a marquee signing but the early indications are that many of the Newcastle players who led the team to the title will be back again next year. Darius Defoe and Charles Smith are almost certain to provide an experienced core.
“It certainly won’t be smaller than it was this year, if anything it will be slightly higher than it was and it should be competitive again,” he said.
Blake admits that it has taken the Eagles some time to get over the heartbreak of losing yet another final. The Eagles have lost four in a row and there is an acknowledgement that they have to handle the pressure better next season. “It is four finals in a row now and they don’t get any easier to take,” he admitted.
“To get there and lose doesn’t make it any easier and we seem to have lost in a couple of different ways now. It was very, very tough to take but that is finals for you.
“The way I look at it, it’s a levelling out of our record in finals because we had a run where we did not lose one for years. Now we are in a run where we don’t seem to be able to win one and when you have a team that is built to win, it is inevitable that they will take it hard.”