If there’s two teams in the BBL that have got to know each other very well this season it has to be the Cheshire Phoenix and Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
As of tomorrow evening they will have faced other in all four BBL competitions; the Championship, Cup, Trophy and Play-Offs.
John Lavery is sure both teams will be well aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, especially as the most recent meeting was just a few days ago.
“That was the sixth time we’ve met them this year,” said the Phoenix coach.
“That means that by Sunday evening we’ll have gone up against Newcastle eight times, which is unbelievable!”
The good thing about last Sunday’s game from a Phoenix perspective is that they were finally able to get a win over the team from Tyneside, having lost all five previous meetings.
“They had just lost the league but they came out and played hard, but then we didn’t expect anything less from a team coached by Fab [Flournoy],” insisted Lavery.
“I thought we were comfortable winners,so it was a great win.”
It wasn’t the first victory of the weekend as the Phoenix travelled to Worcester Wolves on Friday and beat them too. Not only did that give them a sweep of the Wolves but it ended Worcester’s hopes of finishing third.
“Worcester is a tough, tough place to go,”admitted Lavery.
“We were down in the first quarter but we took control in the second and from there on we never looked back.”
It will be a huge test for the Phoenix this weekend if they want to oust the Eagles. The last time that Newcastle went out at this stage was 2003-04, which incidentally was Fab Flournoy’s first year at the helm.
“Friday is going to be a totally different ballgame, it’s the business end of the season and everyone is fighting to stay alive in the Play-Offs,” said Lavery.
“There were times against Newcastle [on Sunday] that I felt we dropped down a gear so we will look at that, address it and get ready for Friday.”
He added, “We wanted to have some momentum going into the Play-Offs and we were able to do that with the two wins.
“We’ve just to keep that momentum when we go to Newcastle and hopefully we’ll come away with either a win or a close game heading back to the Cheshire Oaks Arena on Sunday.”