Newcastle Eagles coach Ian MacLeod admits his short-handed team are not immune from a giant killing in today’s BBL Trophy final in Glasgow against Solent Kestrels.

His plans were thrown into chaos yesterday after three of his American stars – Mike Morsell, Nick Schlitzer and Sade Hussein – abruptly quit the club and flew home due to the coronavirus.

It massively boosts the hopes of unheralded Solent of the lower-tier NBL, who have knocked off two top-flight sides during their shock run to the showpiece.

And Macleod, who took the helm in Newcastle when Fab Flournoy joined the NBA’s Toronto Raptors on the eve of the campaign, acknowledges there is no guarantee the minnows won’t come up trumps.

“I don’t know why people have been so surprised or think these wins have come out of nowhere,” he said. “They’re a very good team. Very well-coached. They’re Division One only in the sense that it is where they compete. But we’re going to highlight our strengths and come in with our game plan.

“We’ve had a couple of bad days lately but we’ve had some really good performances too. So it’s about coming in knowing what we do well. It’s about having our eyes open, respecting them, but not fearing them.”

Newcastle will also be without Scotland international Eddie Matthew who has failed to recover from injury. And with Solent winning 30 of their 31 games so far, Kestrels guard Brendan Okoronkwo insists the minnows won’t be daunted by playing in front of a capacity 6,000 crowd in Glasgow.

“Everyone has to put on their kit, everyone has to tie their shoes up,” he said.

“Everyone has got to compete up and down the court for 40 minutes. It’s about how you approach that and us putting ourselves in the right position to come out on top.”

Meanwhile Durham Palatinates boss Lee Davie reckons his Scottish stars can help them deny Leicester Riders a hat-trick in the WBBL Trophy final.

12 months after helping the Riders hold off Durham 76-74, Dee Hayward and Claire Paxton are now aiming to knock off their former team and deliver a maiden piece of silverware to Durham.

“We have picked their brains about what Leicester will do,” Davie said. “But the biggest thing is the contribution that they both have given us on the court since coming here.”

Watch both finals live on MVP247.com from 12.55pm

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