Marc Steutel has delivered a franchise-spanning history lesson to his new recruits after revealing a new-look roster will use Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles’ storied past to fuel an exciting future.
The men in black take a step into the unknown tonight when they take on Lithuania’s Šiauliai in the first of seven European North Basketball League (ENBL) group games.
And Steutel insists his fledgling team owes its first campaign on foreign soil to the scores of players, staff and fans who’ve helped establish Newcastle as a proven hoops heavyweight during the last 25 years.
“It’s going to be one hell of a challenge but I’ve taken time this week to explain to the guys just what this means to everyone involved with the organisation,” said the Eagles’ playcaller. “They need to understand just how important this ENBL campaign is and what it’s taken to get here.
“There are so many people synonymous with the Eagles who have paved the way for what we’re able to do this season.
“Staff, former players and, of course, our supporters have all played their part in getting us to where we are now.
“When I look at the list of talented professionals who’ve worn the Newcastle jersey with pride — without ever being in a position to represent the club in Europe — it makes this week even more special.
“It’s important that I impress upon the current team the significance of what we’re about to do here. They need to understand the history and the heritage.”
Newcastle have trialled a three-guard line-up in the British Basketball League this season with Jordan Johnson, Larry Austin Jr and Ricky McGill all sharing court time together.
And it remains to be seen whether the Eagles will take the same approach in Europe against teams traditionally set up to dominate inside and build from a strong defensive foundation.
But Steutel has plenty of experience countering continental opposition at senior international level and the Great Britain playcaller is relishing another opportunity to flex his tactical muscles.
“We’re up against a genuine powerhouse this week and I’m paying Šiauliai a compliment here when I describe their basketball as typically European,” added Newcastle’s playcaller.
“They play religiously within their system — they have some size and rely on two really skilled guards.
“It’s a fresh challenge for me and a new test for many of the players.
“I want this Eagles team to be the best it can possibly be and although nobody wanted to come into the ENBL campaign on the back of a defeat we will learn from last week’s loss to Cheshire.
“We’ll continue learning on the road in Europe and continue to represent this club in the best way we can.
“I’ve tried to realign the guys’ focus in the last few days and get them locked into the job in hand.
“The Phoenix game has gone now — we have three games in five days against three top quality teams and right now Šiauliai is our only focus.”
Newcastle tip off against Šiauliai from 4:30pm BST with the game streamed live and for free via the ENBL’s YouTube channel.