Date Time League Season
February 13, 2024 7:30 pm ENBL 2023-24

Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles could finally field a full roster for the first time this season as Marc Steutel’s men suit up for a sixth game in just 14 days.

Will Neighbour is slated to return to action after being sidelined with a knee problem since last November.

And Devin Whitfield — rested at Manchester Giants on Sunday — also looks likely to face Zastal Zielona Gora in tonight’s European North Basketball League (ENBL) clash on Tyneside.

Both players are primed to join fellow returnees Josh Ward-Hibbert and Scott Spencer to complete the long overdue clearout of Newcastle’s previously congested treatment room.

“Devin’s feeling good,” confirmed Steutel after the US guard failed to follow up last Friday’s brief comeback with further game time in Manchester.

“He only got a few minutes against the Gladiators last week and we decided to rest him on Sunday to make sure that he can play on Tuesday.

“The type of injury he’s had [hamstring] means we have to manage Devin carefully but there’s been no setback and the decision to leave him out at Manchester was purely precautionary.

“He’ll be ready for Gora. We’re also looking forward to getting Will out on the floor this week and we’ll go from there.”

There have been times this season when the Newcastle faithful wondered whether they’d ever see the day when all of the franchise’s senior professionals would be match fit at the same time.

Injury and illness has disrupted practice and game play throughout a challenging campaign at home and abroad but it seems there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel.

Steutel, of course, could still choose to rest a handful of frontline stars tonight with qualification for the ENBL playoffs secured and a tough trip to Plymouth on Friday looming large.

Although the winners of tonight’s clash will secure third place in Group B, Newcastle’s passage to the quarter-finals is guaranteed, whatever the result.

Gora must win to bag a last eight spot — defeat will see the Poles finish fifth and miss out on the post-season.

“We’re excited to host Gora this week,” added Steutel. “And I’m delighted that we’ve already taken care of business in terms of qualification for the playoffs.

“We’re in the middle of a really busy period and by the time we get Friday’s trip to Plymouth out of the way, that will have been seven games in 17 days with a lot of travel in between.

“It’s been a challenging period and while we want to win the ENBL game this week — and improve our position in the group — I have to manage the squad and ensure that we’re as fresh as we can be for Plymouth away at the weekend.

“The focus is on Tuesday but, in the back of my mind, I know I need to have as fresh and as healthy a roster as possible so that we can try and finish this run of league games with a win at Plymouth and head into the international break on a high.”

Newcastle sit joint fourth in the British Basketball League following Sunday’s commanding 106-85 win at Manchester.

And it’s little wonder that Steutel has one eye on Friday’s trip to the Patriots with his side locked in a fascinating battle for a top four finish.

The Eagles followed up Friday’s superb win against Caledonia Gladiators with an eye-catching century on the road.

And Newcastle’s head coach added: “The spread of scorers at Manchester was very pleasing and we had five guys in double figures again.

“Statistically we were 40 per cent from the three-point line on 35 three-point attempts

“I thought we took a lot of good three against the Giants and, most importantly, we had 28 assists.

“It’s great that we have different guys scoring but the way in which we were scoring was so positive.

“But to have 28 assists is exceptional and it shows how team-orientated this group is and how much they enjoy playing with each other.”

Tonight’s game against Gora tips off at 7.30pm with tickets available from the box office.