History was made on Tyneside as Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles celebrated the franchise’s latest chapter with a fabulous victory at the Vertu Motors Arena.
Marc Steutel’s men survived a third quarter scare on Halloween to defeat multiple Czech champions Basket Brno 87-81.
And a thriller of a win was underpinned by frightening pace, intense pressure and a fresh determination under the offensive glass.
As Newcastle hosted competitive European basketball for the first time it was entirely fitting that Darius Defoe was restored to the starting five.
And the veteran’s dynamic all-round display — including three steals and a cheeky assist — set the tone for a much-improved display from the men in black.
Heading into the club’s second European North Basketball League (ENBL) clash of the season, the hosts had won just one of their previous eight games.
But Rickey McGill’s rapid-fire score from the tip hinted that the Eagles were in no mood to spoil their own party.
An impressive stat line told the true story as Steutel’s brand of attacking hoops put Brno on the back foot from the first quarter.
The hosts hit 29 points off fast breaks and scored 11 second-chance points on the back of an impressive 15 offensive boards.
Better still, Newcastle forced Brno to turn the ball over 19 times as a swarming defence often suffocated the shellshocked visitors.
Steutel had called for a fitting response to the previous week’s horror show against London and this was a performance founded on pride and passion.
The Eagles started strong and stayed focused down the stretch to move to 1-1 in ENBL Group B and take renewed confidence into this month’s trip to Valmiera Glass VIA.
On a night when Jordan Johnson took the MVP honours with a game high 25 points, eight assists and three boards there were stellar displays all round.
Tajh Green warmed up for a big night with a monster dunk in the sixth minute and the former Manchester Giant finished with a destructive double double of 20 points and 13 rebounds.
McGill filled the stat sheet with 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals to underline his value to an evolving roster.
And Malcolm Delpeche fell one board short of a double double after coming off the bench to dominate the final quarter — a sensational alley-oop from a cute McGill dime the highlight of an Eagles-best effort from the former Bristol big.
Newcastle dominated the first period to lead by nine and although the Czechs — paced by the impressive Tomas Zdanavičius — had trimmed that lead by the half, the hosts’ offence kept flowing.
Green secured his double double midway through the third and the Eagles led 62-57 heading into the final stanza.
Johnson hit six of seven free throws before adding a triple at the start of the fourth to open up a 73-63 lead and with Delpeche in the zone there was no way back for Brno.