FAB Flournoy is determined to ensure Newcastle Eagles are not caught out by surprise packages Surrey Heat tonight.
Heat have exceeded all expectations this season and arrive on Tyneside sitting third in the BBL Championship, one place and two points behind the Eagles.
Flournoy has praised the job Heat’s Zimbabwean coach Creon Raftopoulos has done to build a side capable of competing at the top end of the table, and warns the Eagles must be at their best this evening.
He said: “It’s a top-of- the-table clash because we are third and Heat are second, so there is a lot riding on Friday’s game.
“Creon has done a fantastic job of rebuilding what used to be Guildford Heat and making them competitive.
“I think it’s fair to say no one saw it coming this season – no one expected them to be as high up in the table as they are.
“They are an underrated side and, in a way, that is one of their strengths.
“They have surprised a lot of people and we don’t want to fall victim to that kind of scenario.
“I have to make sure we are fully-focused.”
Eagles suffered a surprise 88-73 defeat at Worcester Wolves last Saturday but bounced straight back with a 73-70 win at Plymouth Raiders the next day.
Flournoy added: “We went into last weekend looking for two wins and had to settle for one.
“At Worcester we failed to defend as well as we normally do and we also managed only one three-point shot from something like 16 attempts.
“We lost Charles Smith early in the game and that was a big blow to us.
“However, we played much better basketball and came back to win on Sunday, which was an important result. Now we have to try and follow up with a win against Heat tomorrow night.”
Smith is still sidelined with the calf problem he suffered at Worcester and, while Flournoy admits his absence is a blow, he is confident the Eagles will be able to cope.
He said: “Charles has been the man for us for such a long time. He is our top scorer and our talisman.
“He injured his calf at Worcester and it is highly unlikely he will be able to play tomorrow night.
“It is something we will just have to take game by game and I will be guided by the doctor.
“One of our strengths, though, is we have shown we can manage without players when we have injuries and we will have to do so again.”