Daniel Johnson-Thompson is relishing the chance to shoulder even greater responsibility after playing a key role in Newcastle’s spirited response to a potentially crippling Covid outbreak.

The shorthanded Eagles played two games inside 72 hours without a slew of senior stars last weekend.

And Johnson-Thompson played all but seven minutes of two tough tests on the road as the former Worcester man more than proved his worth in a black and white shirt.

“I always felt confident that I could do the job I was brought here to do,” said the athletic British forward ahead of Friday’s BBL Cup clash with Manchester Giants at the Vertu Motors Arena.

“I’ve been in a similar situation before in my BBL career when injuries have meant I’ve been asked to step into the starting five.


“When I saw what was happening last week with the Covid cases I wanted to meet the challenge of two tough away games head on.

“I wanted to prove myself and prove what I could do to the Newcastle fans.”

Johnson-Thompson made a seamless transition from benchman to main man as he claimed 19 rebounds in back-to-back clashes against Sheffield and Glasgow.

And his confidence and poise at the Rocks on Sunday proved there’s much more to come from a player determined to progress on Tyneside.

“I think it’s a measure of how well we played that we came away from the Glasgow game bitterly disappointed that we didn’t win,” added Johnson-Thompson.

“In some respects, the result at Sheffield didn’t feel as bad because of the injuries in the final quarter.

“Personally, the loss against the Rocks really hurt. It’s still hard to take in now. We went there with six players (plus unused Newcastle University benchman Jack Marsden) and lost by eight points so we should be proud.

“In fact, we put ourselves in a position to win the game and that’s what hurts.”

Johnson-Thompson will get another crack at BBL Cup action against the Giants although Louis Sayers and Duke Shelton could be back in contention.

Both players are due to finish their periods of self-isolation by the end of the week but a lack of training and match fitness might prevent an immediate return to action.

“We might have a few bodies back but it won’t be very different to last weekend,” added Johnson-Thomspon.

“What the last couple of weeks has proved is that this team has character and no shortage of confidence.

“Nobody has shirked the challenge. We’re very lucky to get paid doing a job we love and there are times when you have to stay strong in the face of adversity.

“If we don’t have a full team again this weekend then the players who are available will knuckle down and do the best they can in the circumstances.

“I do feel for players like Corey Johnson and Wesley Person Jr who hit huge numbers last weekend and did everything they could for the club…only to end up on the losing team twice.

“But I think if we’re going to come away with anything from this period it’s that teams will give Newcastle Eagles the respect this club deserves.”

Johnson-Thompson was back in training with Northumbria University on Monday night despite not returning from Scotland before midnight on Sunday.

And the in-form forward is expected to play a key role in today’s big BUCS clash as Northumbria tackle Newcastle University in a hotly anticipated local derby.

“I’m not complaining,” said the Sport and Exercise Science Masters student.

“I’m here for a reason and that’s to represent Newcastle Eagles and Northumbria University on and off the basketball court.

“I want the responsibility and I’ve been preparing for this kind of situation all of my career.”

Tickets for this Friday night’s must-win game are almost sold-out, but the final few can be purchased now on the box office.