Date Time League Season
March 1, 2024 7:30 pm ENBL 2023-24

A pain-free Scott Spencer is poised to play a key role in Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles’ high-pressure run-in as big time European basketball returns to the North East.

The US star has missed the bulk of his rookie campaign with the men in black after suffering a painful back injury in pre-season.

But after successful surgery and a managed return to frontline action, a refreshed Spencer is raring to go — starting with a Friday night ENBL clash against Bakken Bears.

“I’m very excited to kickstart my season,” said Newcastle’s hotly tipped summer signing.

“Just being able to play basketball, pain free, is something I’ll never take for granted.

“When you go through something like I went through, you enjoy the little things.

“So I’m very excited to get back on court with my team-mates and to take on a really good team.

“I look at the streak of games we’ve got coming up and I haven’t even played against some of those teams yet!

“But nobody’s looking past Bakken. They’re a quality team and this is a huge game.”

In arguably one of the most significant fixtures in franchise history, ENBL newbies Newcastle return to action against one of Scandinavia’s hoops heavyweights.

The first leg of the club’s quarter-final pits Marc Steutel’s men against the team that finished second in Group A.

But a bullish Spencer believes the Eagles are well-placed to establish an invaluable advantage heading into the return leg in Aarhus later this month.

“It’s a very big game and we’re taking it very seriously,” he added. “The fact that it’s in Newcastle on a Friday night gives us a real advantage.

“I think everybody in the British Basketball League knows that we’ve got one of the best fan bases in the UK and I guess that message is getting across into Europe too.

“Playing our first ENBL game on a Friday is fantastic. Our supporters really are like a sixth man and we’ll need all of their energy and enthusiasm when we run out against the Bears.”

Steutel’s men won five of their seven Group B games to ease into the ENBL knockout stages with room to spare.

Coach Steutel is back on the Vertu Motors Arena sidelines for his Eagles after leading the national team to EuroBasket Qualifiers victory last Friday. (Photos: Gary Forster)

But Bakken represents another significant step up and the bookies make the Danes clear favourites to make this season’s Final Fours.

Newcastle, of course, have nothing to lose as they look to go even deeper into their rookie European season.

And Spencer added: “The mental side of basketball is a big part of sport and we have to stay focused.

“It’s vital that we remember the final buzzer in this week’s game is only half time in the tie overall.

“The final four or five minutes of the first leg will be pivotal in terms of the final outcome.

“The tie could be won or lost in that time but we need to remind ourselves that there’s still a lot of basketball to play — whatever the situation.

“We need to keep our foot on the gas for the full 40 minutes and do what we can to take a lead into the second leg.”

Tonight’s Vertu Motors Arena clash sees a return to club basketball for Josh Ward-Hibbert after the in-form guard was called up to the Great Britain squad last month.

Spencer was in the crowd to support his team-mate and Eagles’ GB playcaller Steutel as the hosts defeated the Netherlands on Tyneside.

The Eagles were out in force to support their teammate Josh Ward-Hibbert with in the national squad last Friday night at the Vertu Motors Arena. (Photos: Gary Forster)

And Newcastle’s US star added: “The guys who were in town last week, myself included, came to support Josh.

“We came to support our team-mate and celebrate a well-deserved achievement.

“It was great to see him suit up in a GB jersey. The work he’s been putting in all season has really paid off and he deserved to be recognised.

“It’s just amazing to see how far he’s come this season and to be a part of that journey.”

The ENBL Playoffs Quarter-Final 1st leg clash tips off at 7.30pm and tickets are still available from the box office.