Newcastle player-coach Fab Flournoy still fancies Mersey Tigers to reach the play-offs, despite the Liverpool club only picking up their first away win of the season last weekend.
Tony Garbelotto’s men travel north to take on the Eagles on Friday, five days after their morale-boosting triumph over Glasgow at Kelvin Hall.
It is a far cry from their last visit to Sport Central, which saw them secure the 2011 BBL Championship, with the two teams enjoying contrasting records so far this campaign – Newcastle 11-3 and Mersey 3-11.
Flournoy said: “Tigers are an aggressive young team with a coach who will be making them better week on week.
“They have just picked up an excellent win at Glasgow, which is never easy, and played Leicester tough on Friday night as well so they are certainly a team with an opportunity to make the play-offs at least.”
The Eagles picked up a 94-80 on their trip to the Knowsley Leisure and Culture Park in December, and they will be heavy favourites to follow that up with a win on Friday.
Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto said: “They are the top team in the league and playing tremendous basketball at the moment. Also, we play them in their fortress at Newcastle, so it will be even tougher.
“You can name almost every one of their top seven players as key players. They play with tremendous chemistry and intensity and on present form are going to be very tough to beat.”