Newcastle Eagles bosses have backed the decision to postpone tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier between Great Britain and Belarus.
There have been growing calls to ban Belarus from any sporting competition with immediate effect following the Eastern European nation’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
And late on Friday basketball’s international governing body, FIBA, confirmed the Group B clash at Newcastle’s Vertu Motors Arena had been called off.
“We fully support FIBA’s decision,” said Dan Black, Sales and Communications Manager at Newcastle Eagles.
“We look forward to the rescheduled tip-off and want to welcome back British basketball fans to the North East as soon as possible.”
Prior to the postponement, sport’s governing bodies across the globe had been urged to ban the Belarus flag and refrain from playing the country’s national anthem at any outstanding international fixtures.
Now it appears increasingly likely that the former Soviet state will be ostracised from all sporting competition until further notice.
The Vertu Motors Arena was due to host a third successive GB international after acting head coach Marc Steutel’s men defeated European heavyweights Germany and Greece on Tyneside.
The Eagles’ state-of-the-art venue has become the new home for GB senior men’s basketball during the last two years.
And it is hoped Steutel’s roster will return to the North East at the earliest opportunity after training on Tyneside all week.
“As ever I’m really, really grateful to the Eagles organisation for making us feel so welcome,” said GB’s playcaller.
“We’ve been here three times now and the support on and off the floor is second to none.
“The staff have done everything that they can to make sure that we’re as well prepared as we possibly can be.
“Of course, we wanted to play on Monday but hopefully we can play again in front of the Newcastle fans very soon.
“There are things in the world that are bigger than basketball.
“It is heart-breaking to see the things that are happening in the Ukraine, which completely puts basketball into perspective.
“It’s been a positive training camp in spite of what’s been happening off the court and we’d like to thank everyone at the Eagles and the people in the North East for making us feel at home again this week.”
Newcastle is in pole position to host future internationals given the Eagles’ track record for delivering big games on Tyneside.
And both the British Basketball Federation and FIBA have been impressed with the organisation’s ability to pivot in the face of a fast-moving political situation.
“The Vertu Motors Arena is proud to have been able to host the GB team for the third time this week and everyone at the Eagles was excited to be holding Monday’s game,” added Black.
“International events like this take a huge amount of coordination and planning with many moving parts.
“That’s why we want to thank all of our partners and suppliers for their help and understanding this week.
“The late postponement proved extremely challenging so close to the arrival of the FIBA officials and the final preparations for the venue build.
“But everyone was in complete agreement that it was the right decision.”
Tickets purchased through the Newcastle Eagles Box Office will be refunded and all ticket holders will receive an email notifying them of this process next week.
A rescheduled date for the game will be announced by FIBA in due course.