Coach Creon Raftopolous promises that his team will go out “all guns blazing” this weekend as Scorchers face two more BBL Play-Off contenders.
Scorchers head to Newcastle to face the Esh Group Eagles hoping for a very Good Friday, and the start of their own resurrection as we head into the final week of the season. The squad then return to the Sports Park arena to host the fast-rising Glasgow Rocks, who are on a run of nine wins from their last ten games.
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“It’s all-guns blazing. We just have to go full-out for everything,” is Creon’s rallying cry. “The fans have stuck with us through a really really tough season so we’re looking for the guys to step-up in the next two games.”
Admitting that “the fans deserved a whole lot better than we showed on the day, it was one of our flattest performances of the year” in last weekend’s defeat to Champions-elect London Lions, he again suggests: “It’s just trying to find that consistency, and with four games left there can be no excuses. Right now, everybody’s playing to prove whether they should be back next season.”
Raftopolous highlighted his team’s shooting accuracy against the Lions – which saw them land just 32% of all field goal attempts and 8% of three-pointers – as a key area for improvement. Yet Scorchers at least matched Lions in top points scorer, rebounds and assists, through Will Atwood, Anthony Elechi and Tayo Ogedengbe respectively, suggesting that they’re not too far away.
“We had a lot of good looks at some really makeable shots. We just never made our shots,” he admitted, before conceding: “We’ve played sporadically or we’ve played three good quarters and the one quarter we’ve played bad has been really bad. That has been our Achilles heel for the whole season.
“One of the keys this weekend is to not put ourselves in a hole that we can’t dig ourselves out of. But there are a lot of positives.”
Comparing a day-trip to the north-east and the expected 5.30am return on Saturday morning to “almost like having a form of jet lag”, Creon knows that rest is perhaps the most important factor in preparing for Sunday’s 2pm tip-off. “You need to get your body clock right, so all I can ask our guys is to rest-up when we get back from Newcastle and turn up fresh and give it a good go on Sunday.”
The Eagles have lost their last two games having previously been on a five-game winning streak, but, he says, “everybody is fighting for the Play-Off positioning now, so we’ll go there and play the best possible game that we can”.
Rocks, meanwhile, may have timed their late run to perfection, but Creon is not surprised at their rise. “I picked Glasgow to be a top four team at the beginning of the season. I felt they had an amazing roster, and I guess they’ve managed to get it together later than sooner, but they are in a rich vein of form so we know it’s not gonna be easy.”
Tip-off at the Sports Park arena is 2pm – get your tickets here.