DURHAM Wildcats go into the busiest weekend of their schedule on the back of a heartening performance against Newcastle Eagles, but question marks hang over their fitness levels.

Dave Elderkin's men, who remain at the foot of the British Basketball League, led the title-challengers by ten points in the third quarter, but ultimately could not resist the Eagles, who subjected them to their 13th consecutive league defeat.

Elderkin was calm despite the loss, and acknowledged that Newcastle's superior fitness levels may have been a factor.

He said: "It was a good game. For only the second time in the BBL we went into the second half leading and, lo and behold, we stretched our lead to ten points in the third quarter.

"Eagles had played the night before, we hadn't. I still think there is a question mark over our fitness. I think it's getting there, but not just yet."

Wildcats' stamina will be severely tested this weekend and, with the team in desperate need of points, they can't afford to fail.

Having travelled to Worcester on Wednesday for a University league fixture, they are at Milton Keynes tonight (7.30pm), a ten-hour round trip, before entertaining Cheshire Jets at Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre tomorrow (7pm).

"It's a physical challenge, but one we've got to face," said Elderkin. "Travelling is absolutely a factor. It was ten hours for the Worcester game and it'll be another ten for Milton Keynes.

"Two things go some way towards helping us. Firstly, five of our players didn't play in the University game, so we've got some fresh legs, and secondly, some will play on Friday who aren't playing on Saturday."