Sunday Sun

Eagles aiming to build on success

- Jeff King

THE Newcastle Eagles travel to Scotland this afternoon to take on basement side Glasgow Rocks looking to build on the momentum gained from Friday night’s superb 90 – 80 win over Leicester Riders.

The Eagles produced a stunning second half performanc­e to completely turn the game around after going into the locker room at halftime down by eleven points. Their third quarter defensive effort paving the way to unlocking their offence as they stormed back to take a great victory.

But, as both Head Coach Ian Macleod (inset) and game MVP Justin Gordon commented after the game, the Eagles must take that form and confidence into the game against Rocks to ensure that they continue to move forward as the end of the regular season approaches.

“I think we need to validate Friday’s win,” commented Macleod. “This has a similar feel to when we beat London after a tough loss at Surrey. Two days after we beat London we went to Cheshire and I said to the guys we have to validate our Friday’s work with our Sunday’s work.

“So that’s what we have to do. This isn’t a magic bullet. We’ve been inconsiste­nt this year and we can look back at some things where we missed potential opportunit­ies. But we move forward and hope we can bring more consistenc­y to our game.

“There’s nothing given in this league. Glasgow have been playing well even after losing their two Americans. They’ve been sharing the basketball and doing the small things, doing the little things and keeping it simple which works for them.

“There’s no ‘gimmes’ in this league. No-one is winless and everyone is dangerous. We have to make sure that Friday is a bar for us and not a flash in the pan and that starts again in Glasgow.”

The Eagles will be looking this afternoon to complete a three-game sweep of The Rocks after double-digits wins in Glasgow back in December and at the Vertu Motors Arena just over two weeks ago.

They may have to do without veteran forward Darius Defoe who tweaked a hamstring late on in Friday’s night during a personal performanc­e where he showed immense leadership and superb defensive attributes to help his side to a memorable win. He faces a late fitness test.

With three of their last four games against sides in the bottom portion of the league table there’s a great chance for Newcastle to get a good run going as they look to roll into the end of season plays.

Confidence and consistenc­y are always key in basketball and that’s

what Coach

Macleod and his Eagles are looking to maintain for the final push in what has been a tough season for all.

● Chris Bunten has challenged his bench players to step up and take their chance following the surprise departure of Jorjah Smith, writes SIMON RUSHWORTH.

The Newcastle Eagles guard announced her return home just 48 hours before today’s North East derby against Durham Palatinate­s.

But Bunten is ready to hand greater responsibi­lity to Millie Oates and Mollie Arnold as he prepares for next month’s playoffs.

“I wish Jorjah all the best and we’ll miss her energy and impact off the bench,” said Newcastle’s playcaller.

“She came in this season and did a great job for us despite fighting a foot injury and having to adapt to a new way of playing. Of course we’ll miss that extra body against Durham but that means players like Millie and Mollie are in line to play a more pivotal role. There’s an opportunit­y for a few players to step up between now and the playoffs.”

Victory this afternoon would seal a top eight finish for the Eagles — a feat that seemed unthinkabl­e just three months ago.

“I’ll be using the next fortnight to look at what I’ve got and how we can attack the playoffs with all guns blazing,” said Bunten.

This afternoon’s WBBL derby tips off at 1.30pm. Visit Newcastle Eagles’ website for details of how to watch.

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