FABULOUS Flournoy has warned his Newcastle Eagles players not to become distracted at Sheffield Sharks tonight by their appearance in the BBL Trophy Final at the weekend.
The Eagles lead the BBL table by four points and play Guildford Heat on Sunday as they look to win their first final since their play-off success in 2007.
As ever, though, Flournoy – who was named Newcastle Sports Personality of the Year earlier this week – is watching for any sign of complacency, particularly after the team’s dreadful performances in the finals of the Cup and Trophy last year.
He said: “We were the favourites against Milton Keynes last year and we lost in the final of the Cup, we were favourites against Guildford in the Trophy and we lost in the final, that is a lesson for us all.
“I don’t care if we are the favourites, anything can happen in a one-off game of basketball and we always know opposition teams are going to raise their game against us.
“I don’t pay any attention to what people expect us to do, it’s about what we do in the game that matters, we hopefully learnt from our mistakes last season.
“Trying to win things as a Newcastle player is non-stop, as soon as you win one thing, you are expected to win the next one as well.
“It’s the same in the league, we are out in front as we prepare to go down to Sheffield, but they will want to clip our wings. We can’t afford any slip-ups. I know it is a cliche everyone is sick of hearing me say, but I will always take each basketball game as it comes and the only game we should be thinking about at the moment is the one against Sheffield Sharks.”
Flournoy will not risk last season’s MVP Lynard Stewart against the Sharks, although the American forward is back in training and could feature against Guildford at the weekend. Charles Smith is also edging towards match fitness.
Meanwhile, experienced Guard and former Eagles nemesis Trey Moore insisted Flournoy deserved to be recognised by a wider audience than just Sport Newcastle for his achievements.
The pair often clashed as opponents, but are now teammates, and Moore has nothing but respect for the job Newcastle’s player-coach has done in establishing the Eagles as the leading club in British basketball.
He said: “He deserves every award going as far as I’m concerned. If he had done what he has done with a team in America, he would be a massive celebrity.
“He is wonderful coach who has the ability to get the best out of his players.
“He is relentless and demanding, but he just wants what is best for the team and he doesn’t rest until he gets it. I have the utmost respect for him.”