FAB Flournoy has warned bullish title rivals Plymouth Raiders his Newcastle Eagles are heading south to “run them down”.
The Eagles have only lost once all season and sit top of the British Basketball League, but the Raiders – who boast a 100% home record this term – can haul themselves back into the race with a win at the Plymouth Pavilions tonight.
The increasingly confident Eagles still have ambitions of completing a clean sweep, but Flournoy rightly points out there are big games to go – with Leicester on the horizon after multiple meetings with Plymouth. It is the first of four matches in three weeks between the sides, who will also compete over two legs for the BBL Trophy.
The Eagles drew first blood for the season by thrashing Plymouth in the Cup final at the National Indoor Arena last month.
Flournoy is aware their upcoming clashes will go a long way towards shaping his clean- sweep dream but – with respect – will treat the Raiders as “just another team.”
He said: “We are not underestimating them or taking anything for granted when we go down there but I have a lot of confidence in my guys and how ready they are for this game.
“This is the first time we have played them at their place and the head-to-head is up for grabs as well so of course it is a pivotal game – probably the most pivotal weekend of the season so far.
“With respect, they are just the next team on our list. They are the same as every team – they are another opponent in front us, we want to knock them down and run them down.”
Newcastle have eased to wins over Plymouth twice this season – first in a clear victory at Sport Central before the 115-94 Cup victory in January.
Flournoy thinks neither will matter to Plymouth, who are yet to taste defeat in Devon and are confident about their chances of upsetting the apple cart.
He added: “For us the Cup final is gone. It has been gone for us for a while and I am sure Plymouth are not lying awake at night thinking about it either. When we played them at home they were missing Mike Oju, who is their star guard.
“He is back and that will change things.”
Flournoy’s confidence is in spite of a disrupted week in training which has seen the Eagles struggle to stage five-on-five matches in practice.
Newcastle drafted in two under-16 players to make up the numbers after Ross Wilson and Andrew Bridge missed training due to non-basketball reasons.
Lamar Morrison has been rested after playing in key games for the university and school of excellence which left the Eagles short on numbers.
Flournoy said: “It has not been the ideal preparation but we have had that happen before in the season so we are very resilient now.”