The relatively newly formed rivalry between the Newcastle Eagles and Everton Tigers resumes on Sunday evening, as the two go head to head at the Metro Radio Arena. The Tigers, in their second season in the league, won the BBL Cup last year, but the Eagles managed to scoop the other three titles, playoff crown, with an 87-84 win over the Tigers at the NIA.
This was the last time the sides met, and whilst he is looking forward to testing his team against the best side in the country, Everton Tigers' boss Tony Garbelotto is slightly frustrated by the timing of the game and the injuries that have hit his squad in recent weeks. He said: 'We are hoping to get our full team out on the floor this weekend, and then we will be able to start to see exactly where we are. With Everton Tigers there are always injuries. We still hope that Jerome Gumbs will be fit for this weekend and that Olu (Babalola) and James (Jones) will shake off their minor injuries. 'This game has come a little too early for us, but saying this, we have to know where we are against the best teams and there is no doubt that they (Newcastle) are the best. Their whole roster can be game winners and they have the most settled and balanced team in the league. 'What ever happens, I know Fab (Flournoy, Eagles player-coach) will have his team playing at the highest level, tactically, emotionally and with intensity.'
Flournoy meanwhile, is impressed by the recruitment of the former Eagles coach this summer, and expects a tough test on Sunday evening. He also feels that the game will be affected by the fact that it is the second fixture in his team's first double header of the season. He commented: ''Tony has done a fantastic job recruiting, as he always does, but I think they are two or three weeks behind where he would like them to be. I have no doubt though, that they will be ready for us on Sunday. Every game for them has come down to the wire, and I think this weekend will be tough for us as, unlike other teams, this is our first double header of the season.'
Also on Sunday, the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders complete another weekend of back to back games, as they make the journey to the Capital City Academy, as they face PAWS London Capital, who search for their first win of the 2009/10 season. The Essex Pirates are now fully in the swing of life in the BBL, as they make the trip to Worthing Leisure Centre to take on a rejuvenated Worthing Thunder side.