The Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles women without a game in four weeks ultimately ran out of steam and game legs in the final stretch against Essex Rebels as they returned to the court in the Women’s British Basketball League on Saturday night.
The Eagles had not played since they lost in the first round of the Betty Cordona Trophy Competition to Nottingham Wildcats whilst their opponents had gone all the way to the Final before losing out to the all-conquering London Lions.
It was perhaps therefore understandable that the 68 to 83 point loss to a visiting side that have eyes on a top four spot was not a surprise although The Eagles can and should take positives that they were right in the game until the last few minutes.
Forward Chloe Gaynor who herself had not played since November due to injury was obviously disappointed with the loss but balanced that with a view to returning to competitive action as she analysed the game.
“We always knew it was going to be a challenge as Essex came in fresh and played well in the Trophy final against London. They have a deep bench. They are well run. They know what they want to do and they do it well.”
“I think we knew Kat Tudor was going to be a threat and I thought we did a good job on her particularly in the first half but the thing with Essex is they have multiple scoring threats and they used them all well.”
“I think the game just got away from us at the end but I think we gave them a pretty good fight considering we’ve not had a competitive game for four weeks and it was even four weeks before that when we played and beat Cardiff so that’s not ideal.”
“We’ve focused a lot on shooting and getting reps up over the break as such but it’s not the same as doing it in a game. As much as you try to make practice like a game it’s not like when the lights come on and you’re under game pressure.”
“Practice is about knocking down shots you want to take at a speed you can control but under game pressure the shots can be different and not always what you want to take. I think that’ll come because we missed a few shots tonight that we’d normally make.”
Gaynor herself had the tough assignment of marking Darcy Rees with the Essex Centre one of the premier big players in the league. Despite Rees top scoring for the Rebels, Gaynor enjoyed the experience.
“She’s a tough player and definitely one of the best ‘bigs’ in the League. It’s not often I feel really tiny next to someone but she was definitely a lot bigger than me and it was a bit different for me going back to the ‘5’ and having to try and get around her.”
“She’s a good player and for her size moves very well. It was a fun game to actually match up against someone like that and a good battle and I thought I did okay.”
Going forward The Eagles will move into a completely different schedule with games now coming thick and fast as the weeks towards the play-offs coming rushing up. Gaynor is looking forward that challenge.
“We play the game because we love it and the more games that come the better. But it’s also about how you rest and recover between games to maximise your time off the court to make sure you’re ready to go on the court. That’s what’s important.”
“We have to make sure we take care of our bodies so we can make sure we can go out and give a good game and our best every single time. It’s about us knuckling down treating ourselves as athletes and making sure we do what we need to do.”
There’s no doubt The Eagles face a tough schedule and run-in but they also seem as if they’re ready for the challenge ahead.