FAB Flournoy admits the business end of the BBL season is a journey into the unknown for his talented but callow Newcastle Eagles.
Flournoy’s Eagles welcome Leicester Riders to Sport Central this evening hoping to inflict a mortal blow on the East Midlands’ outfit’s hopes of retaining their domestic crown – by securing back-to-back wins over the reigning champions.
While his team have proved they can beat the Riders already this season, Flournoy admits there is uncertainty about a squad whch counts only Charles Smith, the player-coach himself and Darius Defoe as experienced hands with previous in the final months of the season. Even Defoe – who has been outstanding this season – has not played in the role he has this year.
Flournoy said: “This season is a difficult one to judge.
“They are as talented as any team we have had but they are so young and there is the experience factor.
“It shows in our games. Basically we have lost games this season because we don’t always know how to win games in the BBL.
“We have been up in games and lost them in the last few minutes of matches, which is a sign of a young team.
“So with us, it is about teaching us to win.
“It is about being in the pressure situations and understanding what to do.
“In the games we have lost it has not been about them, it has been about us. So we have to manage this game right.”
The Riders sit fourth in the BBL standings and last weekend’s win for the Eagles was significant for many reasons, not least because it leaves Rob Pasternostro’s team with a mountain to climb to catch current leaders Worcester Wolves.
Flournoy, though, has no time for anyone claiming they are a spent force.
The Eagles’ player-coach added: “Leicester Riders are in no way out of anything.
“Their track record and how they have been playing in the last three years means no-one should take anything for granted when it comes to Leicester.
“I do not think for one second they will come here, roll over and die.
“In two or three years we have not beaten them at home so it was a big win for us last weekend.
“They are still a top team, they still have a top coach who coaches superbly and most importantly they come to Sport Central with a massive point to prove.
“That is the most important factor for them.
“If they come here with a point to prove they are very dangerous because I know from past experience when we have gone somewhere in a similar situation we have played some of our best games.
“If we start taking them lightly and stop doing what we have been doing then we will lose the game and we will be well beaten.
“This is a huge game and the kind of game we are in the league for, the kind of game I look forward to.”