Pain of Eagles defeats brings a source of inspiration for Rowe
FORMER Plymouth Raiders captain Anthony Rowe is a man on a mission in tomorrow's BBL Cup final.
And Rowe knows the size of the task facing his Leicester Riders team when they step on the floor at the NIA in Birmingham if he is to achieve his goal of finally lifting a major trophy.
The Plymothian experienced defeats against Newcastle Eagles in two finals last season with Raiders, and it is not an experience he wants to repeat.
It will be a second straight appearance at the NIA in the season's first final for Rowe, having skippered Raiders in last season's showpiece occasion.
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Rowe was forced to settle for a runners-up medal in both the BBL Cup and BBL Trophy finals in 2011/12, and he knows it will be tough tomorrow afternoon.
He said: "They have been solid in the last decade or so, and have a fantastic reputation in the BBL.
"Without a doubt, they are the team to beat. They are a well-rounded team with some great individuals. It's no shock that they win things consistently."
The 27-year-old power forward admits it is hard to concentrate on one or two Eagles players when looking to win the game.
"The problem is they have a lot of individuals who can step up on any given night," said Rowe.
"Joe Chapman can go for 25 points one night, but the next game it will be Charles Smith leading them.
"You can't just eliminate one area of their game or stop one player, because another one will step up. On the positive side, that's the same with us to a certain extent."
Rowe admits he wants to make up for last year's disappointment.
"Revenge is a strong word," said the 27-year-old, "but I can't describe how gutted I was last year.
"So to get Newcastle again in the final is a competitor's dream – it's a second bite at the apple and it hurt so much last year, I'm glad it worked out like this.
"It's huge to get to the final and it means a lot to me, but the main thing is I want to win something.
"I haven't won anything yet in my career, so just being in the final isn't enough."
The 6ft 8in big-man left Raiders back in November after refusing to accept a contracted pay-cut, which kicked in following his failure to fully overcome knee surgery by August 13, 2012.
Rowe had damaged his left knee cartilage late last season in April and had surgery the following month in late May.
Raiders, understandably and particularly in the current economic climate, were protecting themselves financially and wary of saddling themselves with an injured player on full pay all campaign.
GUARD Drew Lasker's performance in Raiders 97-69 win at Glasgow Rocks last Sunday has earned him a spot on the BBL team of the week.
Lasker came up with an all-action performance at both ends of the court, firstly in defence with an excellent five steals, but also pouring in 28 points with some sharp shooting from long-range where he made three from four attempts.
He also added eight rebounds and three assists for good measure.
Fellow Raider Matt Schneck was also included in the BBL line-up. The forward secured his second pick of the campaign after helping put Rocks to the sword with a frontcourt performance which complemented the work in the backcourt of team-mate Drew Lasker.
Schneck previously appeared during week 11 and his latest accomplishment comes courtesy of an efficient double-double. He accumulated 22 points and 11 rebounds, going 10 of 13 from the floor. Team-mate Javarris Barnett was named on the bench. Raiders were not tipped to win at Rocks, let alone do it by more than 30 points.