Newcastle Eagles’ Drew Lasker wants the team to be in control of their own destiny ahead of the play-offs rather than relying on other results to fall their way.
The Eagles sit second in the BBL Championship and know one win from their final three games will secure a place in the top two.
Lasker believes that all-important win needs to come sooner rather than later – but also feels second spot is nothing more than Newcastle deserve this season.
He said: “Regardless of how things have gone in the second half of the season, we have to solidify that second place.
“That is non-negotiable. There are no ifs and buts about it, we have to get that done. I don’t want us to get it done by having to rely on another team beating another team.
“If we win a game then we get it done and that is what we need to do for this team.
“The second half (of the season) has not been as good as expected.
“As a team, though, we still deserve to get second.”
Weeks don’t come much bigger for the Eagles as they face champions Leicester Riders twice in the space of three days – home and away – and also take on the Sheffield Sharks on Sunday.
Newcastle are one up in the season head-to-head against the Riders and Lasker says tonight’s game will have different meanings for respective teams.
He added: “It’s a big game but then it’s not.
“It doesn’t solidify anything, it doesn’t help Leicester, it helps us by going and solidifying second.
“Other than that, it’s a meaningless game on the surface but underneath the surface it means a lot.
“We have no idea how Leicester are going to play their hand.
“Against London on Sunday, they only played a few of their guys.
“I can tell you we’re going to be at full strength, that’s the only thing I know and the only thing we can control.”
Newcastle’s focus has to be on themselves, Lasker warned, because any time they meet Leicester – whether it is in the regular season or in the play-offs – it is always going to be taken “seriously.”
The shooting guard said: “It is important for us not to even focus on Leicester because there are different ways they can approach this game.
“We’re in no position to play mental games.
“We need to go into this game playing our best basketball.
“We need to go in there because it is a big game for us, nobody else, just us as a crew to get ready for the play-offs. That is going to be our mentality.
“As far as the two clubs playing each other, any time they get together it is a massive game. Everyone sees it as the best against the best – it’s another opportunity for that.”
The Eagles have now lost six consecutive road games after Saturday’s defeat to the Surrey Scorchers and shooting-guard Lasker wants to halt that run before the play-offs.
He added: “We have two more opportunities to play on the road and I think we need to get one before the play-offs to get feel-good factor and gain confidence again.
“With our goal being to get back to the O2, you pretty much have to win two road games.
“Regardless of how you look at it, I know the score is on aggregate, we’re going to have to win on the road to get back to the O2.”
Lasker said it was “tough” losing in the fashion they did but the Eagles will be looking to move on quickly because they have a “rough schedule” coming up.
Tip-off at the Leicester Community Arena tonight is at 7.45.
Source : Chroniclelive