Both teams are locked into their final positions, with Eagles having taken the runners-up spot and currently boasting a 24-6 record, while the BBL Trophy winning Sharks have 15 wins from their 31 games and after a shaky start to the season have assured themselves of seventh place in the final table.
It will be the second of four meetings in just 15 days as the teams met on the same court on Easter Sunday, with Eagles winning a tight game 88-80. Eagles also won their previous encounter with the Sharks 107-86 at Sport Central in January, and Fabulous Flournoy’s team now lead the all-time series of games between the clubs 42-41.
While the Sharks went down on Sunday against his former club, Sheffield forward Andrew Bridge was pleased with how they played: “We came out and played pretty well against Newcastle, there’s a few things we need to tighten up on. But despite the trip to Plymouth the previous day, our energy was good and in that respect we have no complaints about the result. There’s plenty to be encouraged about.”
Bridge isn’t concerned about meeting the Eagles four times in such a short period of time: “It’s just the way it is. Both teams will get a feel for what they like to do it and it’ll be about who executes the best.”
Sharks continued their busy end to the season with a victory against Worcester Wolves last week, and Bridge was pleased with their performance: “It was probably our best defensive performance of the year. Our offence was horrendous, but the D kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win the game. It’s important that we can play like that, that’s what gave us our Trophy win, and although we weren’t quite as good defensively at the weekend, we’re there or there abouts.”
The Sharks followed up that victory with a win at Marjon Plymouth Raiders, to Bridge’s delight: “It was pretty good. We made a slow start in Plymouth and let them play their up-tempo game, and took some bad shots. But we got it back under control and got back in front. Drew Lasker got injured for them, it looked like his hamstring, and we took advantage to close the game out with some good defence.”
Eagles’ player-coach Flournoy was reasonably happy after Sunday’s win: “We played okay on Sunday, it was important to us to continue the positive momentum we have established over the past couple of weeks and Sheffield are playing some of the best basketball in the league at the moment so to dig out a win was pleasing. We also managed to nurse a couple of guys back in after injury and will hopefully continue their reintroduction over the course of this week.”
Flournoy is already looking ahead to the play-off match-up: “The play-off game is uppermost in our minds at this point. It is a mini-season and we have to ensure that we are peaking as we approach it. The games before them are preparation, nothing more but if we don’t play the right way and prepare properly then their preparation value is nil. So it’s my job as a coach to get everybody ready individually as well as ensuring we continue to gel as a team.”
Story – BBL
Photos – MPhotography
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