RALPH BUCCI knows Durham Wildcats face a Newcastle Eagles backlash on Sunday but feels it could act as a good measuring stick for his squad.

BBL Champions Eagles suffered a rare home defeat in their opener against Worcester Wolves and will be out to make amends when they make the short trip to Newton Aycliffe on Sunday.

Wildcats too lost their first game of the season, at Sheffield Sharks, before recovering to spoil Leeds Force’s BBL debut.

As experienced as they come, Bucci is well aware of the task ahead and views it as a vital step in Wildcats’ progression.

“It’s always dangerous playing Newcastle after to a loss,” said Bucci.

“But we are looking at it as a good opportunity because after this weekend we will have played the top two teams from last season, so it is giving us a good measuring stick to judge where we are as a team and how we need to improve.”

Bucci needs just eight points this weekend to have achieved 1,000, but he is surrounded by a lot of new faces on the Wildcats roster.

These early games give an indication of where each player fits into a team’s wider plan, and that will be another focus for the point guard come Sunday.

Bucci added: “Overall we had a pretty good performance over the opening weekend. We saw a lot of areas that we need to improve on, but there were a lot of positive signs.

“Since we have a lot of new players, the biggest area we need to work on is just getting used to playing with each other and establishing a good team chemistry and rhythm.”

Eagles guard Drew Lasker said: “Every team has a wake-up call during the course of the season, ours has been the first game of the season.

“Durham are playing much faster this season as they have the personnel to get out and run more. It will be a tough game in their house but I'm looking forward to see how we respond after a loss.”