FAB Flournoy sends his Newcastle Eagles into the Heat of battle in Surrey this weekend admitting they are not firing on all cylinders.
The Eagles suffered a second successive home defeat last Friday before bouncing back brilliantly at a hostile Plymouth to remind the rest of the BBL the club still have resolves of fighting spirit to draw on.
They will need more of the same when they take on a talented and dangerous Surrey Heat side in their own back yard tomorrow, especially with Flournoy and Damon Huffman both consigned to the sidelines with injuries.
The Eagles have been knocked into second in the BBL but their win in Plymouth revived a situation in danger of running away from them.
Their fate remains firmly in their own hands, although they must beat Leicester twice and avoid any further slip-ups – even at tricky venues like Surrey.
To borrow one of Flournoy’s favourite phrases, there is blood in the water and the BBL sharks are circling.
Flournoy said: “It is another big, big weekend. The next weekend is the biggest weekend this season because we’re not firing on all cylinders.
“Each week we have to be right on our game because we just cannot take it for granted we’re going to win these games.
“In a funny way, that is the best place for us to be in because we need to make sure we prepare right.
“We need to make sure we play in the right way and we need to make sure we do everything we possibly can to win these games. We cannot afford to be complacent – and we won’t be.”
With the cloak of invincibility ripped from them by a rampant Leicester Riders team, the Eagles are second in a two-horse race for the BBL title.
The bad news is while an injury-hit Newcastle seem to be drifting, Leicester are getting stronger.
The Riders recently celebrated going a calendar year without a home defeat and took full advantage of the Eagles’ stumbles to go top of the standings last weekend.
Flournoy does not shy away from the fact his Newcastle team are in an unremarkable run of form.
He admitted: “Right now we’re no better or no worse than any other team in the BBL.
“We’re capable of beating every team hands down and we’re also capable of losing to any team hands down.
“It is just that fine line for us at the moment and every weekend we need to work as hard as we possibly can to ensure we’re on the right side of it.
“It is that time of the season when everyone is jostling for position and there are no ‘gimmes.’
“It is the part of the season I like but it makes it difficult to pick up the wins.”
With both Flournoy and Huffman laid low with injuries, there will be plenty of pressure on senior men Charles Smith and Joe Chapman to keep the team ticking.
Flournoy has every confidence in veteran ‘Prince’ Charles – who continues to deliver performances which leave his coach “full of admiration”.
Flournoy added: “He is a beacon for us because he always plays at that level.
“People say Charles is a lazy player because he doesn’t always move that fast but he’s always in the right place.
“That is something he gets because he works so hard. I’m confident we have enough to win these games, but the guys have to be as confident.”