WORCESTER Wolves are brimming with confidence as they bid to beat Newcastle Eagles and reach the British Basketball League Trophy semi-finals tonight.
Wolves make the long journey north to face the Eagles (7.30) looking to build on last Friday’s 88-75 Championship victory at Manchester Giants.
Coupled with having beaten league leaders Newcastle 88-73 at the University of Worcester in November, Paul James’ side fancy their chances in the last-eight clash.
Victory would set up a two-legged encounter against Leicester Riders in the semi-finals.
The Wolves director of basketball, who has point guard Sherrad Prezzie-Blue fit again following a knee injury, said: “We were delighted with the Manchester Giants victory, we executed our plays well.
“Defensively we were very solid, we out-rebounded them two to one and we shared the ball well. Everybody got to play and it was a really clinical performance from us.
“Sherrad will be back playing some part in the game, which will be good for us, but without him we’ve played very well.
“Even though we lost to Surrey Heat, we actually played well and Manchester were a form team — they’d beaten Surrey the week before and taken Plymouth to double overtime — and we totally destroyed them.
“We’re going to go up to Newcastle with a lot of confidence.”
James added: “It’s a chance to challenge ourselves as a club as to where we are. They are coming into some really good form at the moment.
“Charles Smith and Joe Chapman, their two key players, have been there a long while and are playing exceptionally well.
“It’s a massive task ahead of us but I think we have got some players who we can put in charge of looking after those two in particular and slow them down.
“If we come with our offensive game we’re going to cause them as many problems as they cause us.”
Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy, whose side also beat Wolves 107-85 in the BBL Cup, said: “Worcester are a very solid team and I don’t think they have scratched the surface of their potential yet this season.
“They were just coming together before Christmas with the additions of Prezzie-Blue and Kai Williams, but have probably been a bit like us in that a patchy schedule has prevented them finding much rhythm as a team.
“Arturas Masiulis has really stepped it up inside lately and he is an excellent fulcrum for them to play around. But in reality each one of their main guys can hurt you in a number of ways.
“We didn’t do much well against them last time. They out-hustled us and dictated the tempo of the game. We can’t let that happen again.”