Newcastle Eagles are built for the play-offs, warns Fab Flournoy

Newcastle Eagles head-coach Fab Flournoy says his team has been primed to peak on Sunday

Fab Flournoy, player coach for Newcastle Eagles
Fab Flournoy, player coach for Newcastle Eagles

Fab Flournoy has warned the Worcester Wolves his Newcastle Eagles are “built” for the play-offs.

The Eagles posted a superb comeback to overcome Leicester Riders in one of the BBL’s games of the season on Sunday – booking their place at Wembley for this weekend’s play-off final in the process.

It is the culmination of nine months of hard work for Flournoy, who always promotes the play-off final as the pinnacle of the campaign to his team. All of the players have contracts that run until the week after the season’s end at Wembley, which illustrates just how important the showpiece final is to the club.

“We talk about the play-offs all season,” head coach Flournoy said.

“I build my teams in particular for this match. I can’t really say what other teams do. I have an idea about what they do but I don’t really know. For us, our players are always contracted until the week after the play-off final, which tells you what our focus is.

“All of the preparation is towards that last day of the season and we prepare our guys because we want to be there. In September, at the start of the season, that is what we think about.

“It shapes and orientates our identity and it gives is an end goal and it gives us an opportunity to re-focus because we have something to focus on and a journey to go on.

“Traditionally in the sport, the play-offs have always been the pinnacle.

“The league is in and itself but the league is totally different to the play-offs, when the top teams are all equal, they’ve all had a chance to play each other and we’ve all seen what each other is about.

“We have played each other, we’ve played Worcester a few times and they know what is good about us and they know what our weaknesses are as well.

“We have thrown our best punch and we have received some of their best punches so we go to Wembley on Sunday knowing what they are all about.”

Flournoy is wary of a Worcester Wolves team that pushed the Eagles all the way this season and only fell away right at the death.

They are physically big and are deep with it, being able to call plenty of talent off the bench to support a stellar starting five.

“They have a great team, without a shadow of a doubt,” he said.

“A lot of the credit has to go to the players, guys like Will Creekmore and Zaire Taylor, but they have a very strong bench full of good young British players as well.

“All that being said I think that Paul James has been absolutely pivotal to what they have done.

“He has built that team over three years.

“Last year they came close but this year they had a good start, they hit the ground running and then they kicked on from there. This team is built around his style of play and he has been outstanding. They are a credit to him.”

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