Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles to Rally for Play-Offs

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles to Rally for Play-Offs

Article excerpt

Byline: Jamie Durent

AFTER a disappointing season by their exceptionally high standards, the Newcastle Eagles are targeting a late-season reprieve at Wembley.

The Eagles head into the British Basketball League play-offs on the back of a below-par campaign that has seen them relinquish their grip on the Championship, Cup and Trophy.

But a prospective trip to Wembley Arena in the play-off final has drawn the steely-eyed focus of Eagles players en-masse.

And it's an ambition that is shared by Eagles' Managing Director Paul Blake.

"As the Eagles, we've never been there," he said. "And for me that's interesting as I've got fond memories of going as a schoolkid.

"We've been quite hard on ourselves this season, everyone feels a bit down, but we need to put things in perspective.

"When I first took over the team we'd have done anything for a second-place finish and it's the first time since 2006-07 where we've been in this situation.

"The season hasn't panned out as we'd have hoped but all that said, we've still got the play-off trophy in our cabinet.

"The guys are really keyed in and we've still got the drive to win."

The Sport Central side come face-to-face with the Sheffield Sharks tonight in the first leg of their play-off quarter-final tie, on the back of defeat in their last regular season fixture against the Leicester Riders last Sunday.

Sheffield upset the odds to lift the BBL Trophy last month, defeating the Championshipwinning Riders 71-69 in the final in Glasgow, winning the competition for the first time since 1998.

Fab Flournoy's side won two out of the three meetings with the Sharks this campaign, but lost their last encounter 70-60 on the road 10 days ago.

And Blake is only too aware of the task the Eagles face to advance their trophy charge.

"They had a good end to the season and it is without question the toughest quarter-final we've had in over a decade," he said. …

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