Fab Flournoy soothes Newcastle Eagles injury fears

Newcastle Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy should be back in time for crucial January programme

Newcastle Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy
Newcastle Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy

Fab Flournoy has soothed fears of a long lay-off with the groin injury that nearly derailed Newcastle Eagles’ BBL Cup bid.

Flournoy pulled up after just a few minutes of Friday’s clash with Sheffield Sharks and played no part in the thumping win that confirmed the Eagles’ place in a January Cup clash with last season’s nemesis Leicester Riders.

While he is unlikely to figure in the Eagles’ final home game of the year against struggling Birmingham Knights, the chances are he will be fully recovered for Newcastle’s New Year programme, which includes the January 12 date against the Riders.

That will be good news for a team that posted its most impressive performance of the campaign against Atiba Lyons’ in-form Sharks. Flournoy does not anticipate any serious damage to his groin.

“It just went, there was no particular reason for that. It was just one of those things that can happen on any given day,” he said.

“Where I’m at with it I’m anticipating seven to ten days out. I was prepared to go back on but at the point in time when the injury happened we were building up a rhythm defensively and offensively and my movement was extremely limited.

“I was about a minute from touching the court because we had four guys with four fouls and if the game had been extended I didn’t like our odds with that happening. Under the circumstances we played very well under fire.”

This time last year, injury to Flournoy coincided with a downturn in the Eagles’ form that ultimately cost them their shot at winning silverware.

Twelve months on, Newcastle look like a more solid outfit and the performance of Paul Gause in the point-guard position on Friday will fill supporters full of confidence that they can get back on the trophy trail this season.

He delivered a mature and intelligent performance that was full of effort and endeavour and Flournoy has paid tribute to his coaching staff for helping to develop Gause’s game.

“I have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff,” he said. “It’s about making sure he is in the right place, making the right decisions. We’ve done a lot of video with all the players but especially with Paul to prepare him for situations like Friday.

“Paul has taken everything on board and on Friday he produced all the things we’ve talked about. That is big thing for us and now it’s about maintaining it. It’s not just on him, it’s a lot on the other guys.

“It’s easier to see how well Paul is playing because he has the basketball a lot and he’s the focal point. You can see that, as opposed to the other players who do not have the ball and are playing off the ball. It was a marvellous game on Friday by all the players, and I was proud of them.

Overall it was a fine weekend for the Eagles, although they were pushed into third place in the BBL standings by Worcester Wolves’ impressive return to form.

Not that Flournoy was too concerned as he proclaimed himself “proud” of the side that stepped into the breach after injuries to Drew Lasker and Flournoy.

“That was the Newcastle Eagles that I was waiting for and that we have,” he said. “We have always had that and it’s now about maintaining that standard in every practice session, in every match.

“That doesn’t mean we have to win every game, just that we won’t be caught with our pants down, so to speak.”

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