FAB Flournoy toasted Newcastle Eagles’ BBL Cup success by revealing he feared their entire season would have imploded if they hadn’t beaten Plymouth.
The Raiders gave Flournoy’s men a serious scare on Friday, running them into over-time despite Newcastle boasting a 17-point advantage from the first leg in the South West. To the relief of a gripped Sport Central, Eagles eventually closed out the game and Flournoy says there was more than just Cup success resting on the match.
“It was a massive hurdle that we had to overcome. If we hadn’t come through it I think we would have lost everything,” he said.
“I said that to coach Forrester after the game and I will be telling the guys that this week. I’m serious – not only would we have lost the Cup but I think we would have lost the Trophy, the league and the play-offs in the space of one defeat. I can only wonder what it would have happened to our play-off chances as well.
“It was a pivotal game because it was a game we had to win. We have such a strong mesh of experienced players and young players who have the ability but have yet to do it and because it’s a new team, we needed to get the win for ourselves.
“If we didn’t, I could see us going straight back to the situation we had a few years ago where we just couldn’t beat the Glasgow Rocks – or the situation two years ago when, whatever we did, we couldn’t beat the Mersey Tigers.
“This time we’ve got Plymouth and Leicester in particular who are right on our tales and they are getting closer and closer to us. Had they beaten us on Friday I just think it would have given them a blueprint and a game plan to beat us, which would have been huge.
“Now I am not saying that just because we’ve beaten them we will now go on to win the Cup, the league, the play-offs and the Trophy but it does give us a bit of a mental edge. It is a big win against one of the BBL’s big teams.”
Flournoy’s new-look team have made a solid start to the season but this is the period of the campaign that the Eagles player-coach sees as vital to his team’s hopes.
This year that message is amplified, with Newcastle set to face Surrey Heat, Worcester and Plymouth in the five games before the festive period. For mentality as much as fitness, it is all-important.
“We have question marks over our mental state in big games,” he said. “We have had one game against one of our big rivals so far in Leicester and we lost that game. The top teams in this league are Plymouth and Leicester – as well as a few others – and so far we have come up short against Leicester.
“If we did the same against Plymouth then I don’t want to think about the consequences.”
Meanwhile, Flournoy admits that he will have to wait and see whether a hamstring problem will rule him out of another critical double-header for the Eagles. Newcastle have pivotal games against Worcester and Plymouth on Saturday and Sunday and could do with their player-coach back in action.
“There is a bit of tightness there at the moment which I just need to monitor. The best solution is rest and then we will go from there,” he said.