POINT guard Paul Gause believes Newcastle Eagles’ dramatic BBL play-off semi-final win over Leicester Riders was the perfect preparation ahead of tomorrow’s showpiece final against Worcester Wolves.
The Eagles travel to Wembley for the final game of the season hoping to add the play-off title to their BBL Championship triumph last month.
Fab Flournoy’s men sealed their place at Wembley with a dramatic 162-161 win on aggregate at Sport Central last Sunday with a late surge in overtime enough to pip Riders to a place in the play-off decider
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Having struggled in the first half of the season, Flournoy identified an ability to close out tight games as a big reason behind their title success a few weeks ago and Gause believes their form since late February has prepared the team well going into a difficult test against BBL Trophy winners Worcester.
“The stretch we went on to win the league and the type of basketball we have played has been great,” Gause said. “Arguably the toughest part of our season was the second part of it and for us to lose just one game during that stretch was pretty amazing. If you’d asked us if that was going to happen we’d have found it difficult to predict.
“We’ve had to win some close games and to really battle and be battle-tested. We can just take that into Wembley and hopefully it really prepares us for the final.”
In Wolves, the Eagles face a team that boasts Molten Player of the Year Zaire Taylor and Team of the Year member Will Creekmore.
Worcester were in the running at the top of the championship table right up until the final weeks of the regular season and although they are well aware of the threats they possess, 28-year-old Gause is confident the Eagles will prevail as long as they stick to their game plan.
He said: “Each team in this league has their own personality and Worcester is a completely different challenge to Leicester in my eyes.
“Worcester are a strong team. They have Taylor, Creekmore and they have got a deep bench. It’s going to be an interesting game but we feel that we are prepared well for any team in the league.
“If we stick to our game plan for this one then we will give ourselves as good a shot at winning the game as we possibly can and we can go on and win the game.
“With Dave (Forrester, assistant coach) and Fab’ brains behind it you can be sure we’ll be devising a brilliant strategy to win the game!”
With the close season just around the corner, questions have been raised over who will remain with the Eagles next season.
Gause is in his second stint on Tyneside having been part of the 2011-12 roster, but the point guard insists any talks over returning are on hold until after tomorrow’s final.
He said: “There haven’t been any talks about next year yet. You always want to finish the best you possibly can for this year and it’s not over yet. We still have one more game which is a big game for us on Sunday.”