Chris Bunten has revealed that GB international and marquee signing Chantelle Handy has signed a contract to play in Turkey.
But Team Northumbria responded to a potentially tough situation by bagging a come-from-behind 59-53 overtime win at BA London Lions.
With Handy’s move abroad, TN went into their latest WBBL clash without two key players.
But after leaving the door open for Handy to return to Tyneside in the future Bunten admitted he was delighted with a tough road win.
“We have had our most capped GB player leave us to go and sign for a team in Turkey so it’s been a rough couple of weeks but the girls responded so positively,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for more in the end.”
TN nearly slipped up at the Lions, when they found themselves 14 points down at the end of the third quarter.
“We were possibly a bit lethargic coming out, we missed a couple of easy opportunities and we weren’t particularly switched on defensively,” added Bunten.
“We are well aware that if that had been against a more experienced team then it could have been a lot worse.”
But it was the trusty Alison Gorrell who mopped up the points in the fourth quarter with two clutch free throws at the death to force the game into overtime.
With the scoreline sitting at 48-48, Bunten was never in doubt that his team would triumph after the ten minutes of overtime.
“I think we were confident when Alison [Gorrell] hit those free throws,” added Bunten.
“There were three-and-a-half seconds before overtime when they could have scored but they didn’t and we knew it was going to be our game. We came out and executed way better than we had done in the first three-and-a-half quarters.”
Buten’s confidence seemed to rub off on the players as they cruised through the first period of overtime and saw the game out to extend their winning run to three in the league.
Next up for the girls is the WBBL quarter final cup tie away at Oakland Wolves next Saturday. But Bunten isn’t holding out for another 30 point victory this time.
“I’d love for it to be a 30-point game but we need to work hard in training and I very much doubt they will come out the same as last time,” he added.
“I guarantee that they will come very well prepared for our game at their place. They will want to progress in the cup.”
Bunten also hinted at his team’s enthusiasm to go and win some silverware in this WBBL season.
“The league is so much more competitive,” added Buton.
“We are going to treat this game as if it is a championship game because we know we have the capability to win the cup.”
Report by Dan Simmonite