BBL Cup Final: Leicester Riders v Newcastle Eagles

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Flournoy set to lead Eagles cup bid
BBL Cup Final
Venue: Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham Date: Sunday, 17 January Tip-off: 15:30 GMT
Coverage: BBC Radio Leicester commentary and online

Newcastle Eagles' BBL Cup final against Leicester Riders on Sunday is the game "everyone has been waiting to see", says player-coach Fab Flournoy.

Eagles sit top of the BBL table and on a 27-game winning streak.

However, Leicester have five games in hand on the Eagles, have only lost once this season and beat Newcastle in the cup final in both 2013 and 2014.

"Both clubs can lay a marker, this is the one they're all talking about," Flournoy told BBC Look North.

"They've been in cup finals as many times as we have, they've been successful in finals.

"Everyone has been there before in that situation, but neither side has been with there with that much hype and talk.

"It's a one-off game that everyone has been waiting to see from the end of May until January now. It's all there."

'Trying to beat the greatest'

Leicester coach Rob Paternostro, who led the East Midlands club to back-to-back cup triumphs in 2013 and 2014, says Newcastle's silverware-laden history is clear proof of the enormity of the task ahead of his side.

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'Cup final will not surprise Riders'

Newcastle are the most successful franchise in BBL history, having collected 22 major trophies to date.

"We understand that we are playing one of the all-time great teams," Paternostro told BBC Radio Leicester.

"You look at Newcastle, there is no question that they are one of the all-time greatest teams in the league - the statistics will show that.

"When you watch them on film, they are a kind of team that you can take a couple of things away from, but they can counter. You take one thing away and they will hit you with another.

"You know in this league, if you want to play well you have to do everything you can to match their team because they have been successful for so long."

Timely return - but for how long?

Injury and illness have limited 42-year-old Flournoy's time on court in the past two seasons, with a torn Achilles tendon the most recent ailment to keep him on the sidelines.

Flournoy has overcome those problems in time for the Birmingham showpiece, making his return in last week's league win against Surrey Scorchers after 10 months out.

That setback gave him chance to assess his career

"At this point in time as I am now, if I can't play anymore I pretty much think I'll be done as a coach," Flournoy added.

"I think it would be too close to my heart being around the game and not being able to play.

"It's a bit different if I can't play in terms of injury or something physically happens to stop me from playing.

"If I'm able to play I'll always choose playing over coaching. When I'm done, I'm done."

'Fearless Riders ready'

Riders point guard Neil Watson, part of the side that lost last year's BBL Trophy decider against Newcastle in Glasgow, insists the Eagles and grandeur of the event does not intimidate his side.

"We go into the game completely fearless," the former University of Southern Mississippi player said.

"We have to go in and be tougher than them. We feel like we are the best, they feel like they are the best and only time will show who really is."

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