Fab urges Newcastle Eagles to treat Cup final like it's their last

Newcastle player-coach Flournoy urges team to seize the opportunity in Sunday's BBL Cup final

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

Though he has said it 18 times before, Fabulous Flournoy will say it again.

Sunday’s BBL Cup final could be Newcastle Eagles’ last final event.

That alone, far more than last season’s empty trophy cabinet, should, he believes, be motivation enough to drive his team to victory.

Flournoy has overseen a glittering decade in the Eagles’ history, leading them to 17 titles – including championships – and 18 play-off, Cup and Trophy finales.

Last year was that rare thing, one without tangible success.

Moreover, they were beaten in last January’s BBL Cup final by Leicester Riders, their opponents at the Birmingham NIA this weekend.

Yet revenge is not in Flournoy’s vocubulary.

For as “disappointing” as last term was, the Eagles player-coach insists it is simply the one-off opportunity of winning something, of having a single chance and taking it, that ought to spur his side on come Sunday.

Flournoy said: “It is not about last season, it has nothing to do with that.

“Of course, last season is there and of course it was disappointing, without a shadow of a doubt.

“Yet what is driving us is just the determination which comes from having the opportunity to win something.

“The one thing which has to be understood is the fact no matter what it is you are doing, whatever sport you are competing in, getting into a final is not an everyday thing.

“It doesn’t happen often, so when the opportunity comes along, you want to make the best of it and try and come away with the win.

“As far as I know, this could be my last final. You just don’t know.

“So it is about trying to make the most of this opportunity, to take advantage of it and be as successful as we can. It might not come around again.”

That it has so often is a remarkable achievement.

Yet Flournoy insists each final presents a different challenge, ensuring complacency is kept at bay.

He added: “You never become bored of reaching finals, in all honesty.

“Each game and each situation we find ourselves in is always different, each team you play will be different.

“That makes preparation very important, fine-tuning things to meet each unique challenge.

“Preparing for this final is a lot easier than previous finals, because we haven’t played for two weeks.

“ It’s our first game this year, so all our prep work is focused on the final.

“The one problem you have with that is the lack of rhythm, with not having played for two weeks, having that edge of playing rhythm versus being well rested going into the game.

“It’s just trying to find the right balance.

“The team we have here now is different too, and even if we reach the later finals, whether it be the BBL Trophy or the play-offs, we’ll probably be playing differently because the roles of players, the dynamics, the skill sets, how teams defend against us differ.

“What makes it interesting in this particular game is it is the first time that we’re meeting this season, so that adds a little extra edge to it. I’m 100% sure Leicester Riders will be right up for it, but we will be too.

“Of course we’re going in to win it. Who goes into a final hoping to be second?

“That’s not being arrogant or over-confident, it’s just the way you prepare yourself mentally.

“You want to be confident going into the game and with the expectation of winning.

“It’s fantastic, it’s a great prospect. We’re here now and it’s just about trying to be successful on the day.”

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