Gavin Love wants big Plymouth Raiders improvement in BBL Cup
MARJON Plymouth Raiders face their biggest test of the season on Sunday with coach Gavin Love warning his players they must up their game considerably.
Raiders meet mighty Newcastle Eagles at the Pavilions in the first leg in the BBL Cup semi-finals (4pm).
The second leg is scheduled for Friday, November 30 in Newcastle.
Eagles won every piece of silverware on offer for BBL clubs last season, with Raiders one of the Geordies' victims as they swept the board in 2011/12.
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Newcastle have made a solid start to the season, winning eight of their nine league fixtures to lie second in the table to 10-1 Leicester Riders.
Eagles' only defeat came against Riders on October 26 but before and after the setback, have been their formidable selves.
Raiders, on the other hand, have been inconsistency personified this term, with a 6-3 record exemplifying their fluctuating form.
Raiders' up and down form guide means predicting how the hosts will play in part one of their BBL Cup semi-final with any degree of certainty is almost impossible.
But what Love is certain of is that his team will have to improve considerably on recent performances if they are to dent Eagles' ambitions and give their own a shot in the arm.
Raiders and the fans, said Love, are owed a positive outcome in cup matches against Newcastle, having lost to Fab Fluornoy's team last term in both the BBL Cup and BBL Trophy final.
However, having watched his side lose to visiting Glasgow Rocks 97-84 and then see off a dogged London Lions 108-98 the following day last weekend, Love admits his players will be put through a punishing training schedule ahead of Sunday's big match.
Love said: "I was very pleased with how we came back against Lions, but the big test will come against Newcastle that's for sure.
"We're going to have to get a lot better in a hurry.
"We've got to be firing on all cylinders as they (Eagles) are already showing what a tough outfit they will be this season.
"We're owed a positive result against them in cup competitions, and I know the fans will be great in the home leg.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere. You don't get that many really big games. This is one."