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Read your opponent's eyes... try and Jedi them; Youngster reveals unusual inspiration ahead of semi-final 2nd leg.

Byline: Sean Douglass

THE FORCE is with Newcastle Eagles, says Danny Horta, as he revealed the formidable BBL champions even try to out-Jedi their opponents.

The youngster has been learning from the very best at Sport Central, Fab Flournoy's men in dazzling form having won 16 straight games in all competitions.

Horta has seen some action from the bench this season while in training he has learned a few tricks from the likes of veteran Charles Smith.

Explaining the Star Wars analogy, Horta said: "They have showed me the value of the little things. For example, Charles has told me to read into the opponent's eyes and read what they're going to do, try and 'Jedi' them.

"No one has ever told me anything like that before so it's great to play with these guys and I've developed so much with them. They have taught me how to win and that is a skill in its own right."

The BBL champions face Cheshire Phoenix at Sport Central in the BBL Cup semi-final second leg tonight (7.30pm), on the back of Sunday's 113-85 away win. And Horta believes this is the perfect chance for last season's quadruple holders to really show their prowess to the rest of the league.

He said: "Although we do have a big lead, we want to make an impression and make a big statement. "We want to show that no team can beat us and thrash them again, it's that kind of attitude.

"We want to send a message to everybody in the league, everybody's after us so if we can prove a point like that, that's a good start."

Even with a 28-point lead, Newcastle are keen to ensure there is no complacency and have prepared as normal.

In Akeem Ellis, Kinu Rochford and the BBL's top scorer Jordan Williams, Phoenix have three players who will work the Eagles hard.

But Horta thinks the team can extinguish the threat of the Phoenix and will look to play tight defence - with a view to the Eagles grabbing some points themselves.

He said: "We're going to try and make Ellis uncomfortable and throw him off guard and we just can't let the other guys do what they do.

"We ran on them really well last week, we got a few points on the board because of that so if we're all engaged on defence, that'll lead to a better offence."

The Eagles are well placed to make it to a fifth consecutive BBL Cup final, where Leicester Riders await. For the 19-year-old, it would be his first chance to sample such a showpiece occasion as Newcastle look to expand their collection of silverware.

He said: "It would be fantastic to make it to the final.

"It's been a massive learning curve for me.

"The moment they asked me to join the team, I was all in."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 11, 2015
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