FAB Flournoy has urged his Newcastle Eagles to be the last men standing in the closest ever BBL title race – as he predicts the eventual champions will limp not sprint over the line.
The Eagles are right back in the running for their fourth successive championship after Mersey Tigers, who inflicted a damaging defeat on Flournoy’s men on Tuesday, suffered a surprise loss of their own to the Leicester Riders on Wednesday night.
With both the Tigers and the Eagles facing a punishing schedule between now and the end of the season, Flournoy is predicting plenty more twists and turns before the title’s destination is decided.
Indeed Sheffield Sharks, currently third but with three games against the Tigers still remaining, may yet sneak up on the blind side and overtake both if the league’s tendency to throw up shock results continues.
Flournoy will be hoping there won’t be any at Sport Central tonight though, with the Eagles welcoming an MK Lions side that have struggled to fulfil their potential this term (tip-off 7.30pm).
“It has been a crazy week but they will all be crazy between now and the end of the season because that is the schedule we’ve all got,” he said.
“The rearranging of the cup competition, venue issues, the economic crisis – it has all combined to make it a nightmare run of games. That makes it very, very tight for us all – we are all in the same boat.
“And there will be plenty more twists and turns before the end of the season because we all have to work so hard.
“Injuries, fitness and focus will all play their part and whoever wins it, it will be a limp across the line, not a sprint.”
The Tigers defeat means the Eagles are back in control of their destiny, with the Sport Central meeting between the pair on April 6 now looking increasingly like a title decider.
But for that to happen, Newcastle must take care of business against a Milton Keynes team that Flournoy believes is much stronger than their currently lowly placing. The Lions recruited well in the summer but have a mediocre 9-17 record and are battling to even make the play-offs.
Flournoy said: “I think off the court issues have affected Milton Keynes massively. They obviously had issues with their venue and played a lot fewer games than the rest of us, which damaged them greatly.
“They never really got to grips with that but now they are in a dangerous position because they have a really, really good side. To be honest, I think they are a top four side. That is the talent they have on their roster and that is what makes them such a dangerous side to be playing.
“Lets put it this way, they are not a team that I would want to play in the early rounds of the play-offs. We must be vigilant or we could get a loss of our own.”