Newcastle Eagles are still fighting, says Ian MacLeod

Newcastle Eagles are still in with a Wembley final place as they face Leicester in the second leg

Paul Gause of the Newcastle Eagles
Paul Gause of the Newcastle Eagles

Newcastle Eagles assistant coach Ian MacLeod says there will be no “knee-jerk reaction” as they look to claw back an 11-point first-leg deficit against Leicester Riders and keep their season alive tomorrow.

Newly-crowned BBL coach of the year Fab Flournoy saw his men fail to find the form that has made them something of an unstoppable force in 2014 as they fell to defeat in the East Midlands.

It means that a strong Riders team have one foot planted in the Wembley final ahead of tomorrow’s second leg at Sport Central.

But MacLeod says that there is much more to come from the Eagles, who will bounce back emphatically.

“We won’t do anything differently. At this stage of the season we have our identity, we have a style and a way of playing,” he added.

“On Thursday we didn’t execute things the way we would have liked to or the way we have done this season. We have to get back to what we are doing on Sunday and if we do that then we have to be confident that we will take the game all the way.

“We are league champions for a reason and there will be no knee-jerk reactions from us or change in the way we play.” Although a double-figure advantage gives Leicester a big opportunity to gain revenge on the Eagles for snatching their league crown, MacLeod is adamant that Newcastle can fight back if they take each quarter in isolation.

“If we take each quarter on its own then we need to win each of them by three points to make it into the final,” he said.

“It is a long-term strategy for the game rather than trying to claw all of those points back in the first half or the first quarter.”

The Eagles will take some encouragement from the fact that they managed to resurrect their hopes of making it into the final despite being 22 points down with five minutes to go.

In addition to that they also had Darius Defoe and Malik Cooke on the sidelines after the influential pair fouled out late in the game.

“It gives us a bit of momentum to have pulled the game back to 11 points. It shows what we are capable of when we start putting things together as we should do,” he said.

“Malik and Darius had both fouled out by that point so with those two back in the mix then we have a lot more to give than we did in the first leg.

“For us it is also about sharing the load. We’re not asking any of the guys to do it on their own, we have to do it as a team which is what we have been especially good at all year.

“Offensively and defensively we have to work together to try and get the points on the board and to try and put the performance in that we know we can do. The game is not over.”

Meanwhile, Eagles managing director Paul Blake has appealed for floating supporters to get behind the club as they head into a Sunday play-off D-Day.

A packed Sport Central could make all the difference to Newcastle as they look to claw back a significant deficit in the second leg against a strong Leicester side.

“They will be hugely important,” he said. “We have pulled back an 11-point gap before.

“We have done it in semi-finals and in a final as well.

“We did it in a trophy final when we were 11 points down to Plymouth from a first leg and we won that on our home court.

“It’s not like we can’t do it. We need the support of the faithful because I think Leicester will be bringing around 200, with it being a Sunday. The atmosphere will bepartisan.”

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