Newcastle Eagles coach Fabulous Flournoy believes new signing Bryan Defares will be a catalyst for success – hailing his latest recruit as the spark to help fulfil their clean-sweep aspirations. The Dutch international star arrived on Tyneside yesterday afternoon and may have to watch court-side as his new team-mates lock horns with Scottish Rocks tonight in a BBL Trophy clash.
Flournoy is adamant former-Doukas guard Defares will be influential in clinching their trophy haul. The New Yorker said: ‘We do not know if he will be able to play in this game because we are waiting on his clearance from his last team who still hold his licence. But he’s a versatile player because he can play three positions. He has a lot of experience and will give us some other options.’
‘It means other players can play in their natural positions and with him in the team then hopefully we can all play and try to win some trophies. But I expect him to do the same things that I expect from all the team, and that is to play hard in the defence and to move the play around in the offensive. Off the court he has to be big in the community and be part of the Eagles family.’
Defares – who has spent time on the Continent and in the NBA Development league – met his new coach last night for the first time since his move from the Greek League. He arrives three weeks after the ill-timed exit of Great Britain sensation Richard Midgley, who left the Eagles roster when he defected to the Everton Tigers in early December.
But BBL veteran Flournoy is wary of making comparisons with those who have previously occupied the much coveted Eagles’ guard position. ‘Most people look to replace Richard, and I’m not saying that is what Bryan is doing, but we need to fill the position,’ added Flournoy.
‘Richard was a guard who could hit the net and get us big points, and TJ Walker was a player who was more of a ball handler. I think Bryan is a mix between the two, but he is bigger than both of them. He’s a decent size player and that’s an advantage because previously we have had smaller guards, but Bryan is a lot bigger.’
‘He’s 6ft 4in and it means we are a bigger team and he can attack other guards. I’m excited about having more depth to our bench. It will take him some time to get him up to speed, so there are some positives and some negatives.’
The acquisition of Defares gives Flournoy’s bench a vital influx of fresh blood ahead of a busy period in the Eagles’ heavy schedule. With a string of injury upsets and a dearth of player availability, the new face will allow the North-East franchise some breathing space.
Jeremy Hyatt trained for the first time since the scan on his knee which extended his career, but he is likely to sit out this evening’s contest as he seeks match fitness. Flournoy and skipper Andrew Bridge are still hampered by groin injuries and Olu Babalola is still struggling with an elbow strain that has stalled his season so far.
‘If I’m honest, in the last two games I shouldn’t have played,’ said Flournoy. ‘But with Jeremy coming back and Bryan joining us, it means that we can train and get things back on track. And that is important ahead of tonight’s game. The Rocks are probably the most efficient team in the league. Games between us and them are like chess games.’