NEWCASTLE Eagles will confront the "final frontier" of their BBL season as they attempt to break Plymouth Raiders' unbeaten home run tomorrow.
That is the warning fired by Eagles assistant coach Dave Forrester – who insists the Raiders are still right in the thick of the BBL title mix going into a crucial six-week period in the race for BBL honours.
The Eagles are yet to taste league defeat on the road this season but the Raiders are 9-0 at home, prompting caution from Forrester and head coach Fab Flournoy ahead of tomorrow’s meeting in the South West.
He believes wins for Plymouth in their back-to-back meetings with Newcastle might even hand them the initiative in the title race. The Raiders have three games in hand on the Eagles, although they trail them by some ten points.
“Plymouth are still very much in the title race and that means these next two games are vital,” Forrester said.
“We play them this week and next week and even with the Cheshire game in between things will look very different if they manage to get a win over us. If they win both I would have to say they were in the box seat.
“Plymouth have played the majority of their games at home so far and that has given them the chance to build up a bit of momentum. They are 9-0 while we have won all eight of our games away from home – so something really has to give.
“They are a comfortable team at home. They were six points down with a minute to go in their semi-final BBL Trophy game against MK Lions and ended up winning in added time. They are a very good side that fights hard.”
The Eagles thrashed Plymouth in the BBL Cup final in Birmingham last month as Charles Smith broke all sorts of league records, but Forrester knows that will count for little tomorrow.
“The only place in the league where we haven’t won yet – apart from Plymouth – is Leicester,” he said.
“So Plymouth is really the final frontier for us. We have to play them three times after this so it will be interesting to see what happens this weekend.
“I’d be very surprised if they are still suffering psychologically for the Cup final.”
Forrester also confirmed that Fab Flournoy is nearing full fitness after recovering from bone bruising to his ankle. The Eagles player-coach has been resting himself recently as he attempts to heal a problem that has troubled him since the turn of the year.
“It was really quite a serious injury,” Forrester said. “He played through the Cup final with a badly bruised ankle and I think it is only really now when he would regard himself as 100% fit.”