Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles produced a superb team performance to take a win on the road and their second in Group B of the European North Basketball League.
It was a win that has put them in a great position in the group with a 2 – 1 record and still having four games to play two of which will be at home in the Vertu Motors Arena.
But with four of their seven Group games away from home it was vital that they picked up a win in their latest game and win they did and in some style as well.
Every single player that stepped on court played a part and helped Marc Steutel’s men to another history-making win. Their first away from home in a competitive European competition.
They did it on the back of some stellar individual performances coming together to make for a team effort that their hosts in Latvia had no answer too. Veteran Darius Defoe getting the nod to start the game and he led from the front in a great Captain’s effort.
By the end of the game he was in double-figures in scoring alongside the other four starters and Malcolm Delpeche from the bench giving an all-round fine look to the Newcastle box score.
Eagles though were led magnificently by the two guards in the back court. With Larry Austin Jr. missing through injury and Scott Spencer limited to very few minutes, Eagles were looking to Rickey McGill and Jordan Johnson for inspiration. They didn’t disappoint.
Both almost had triple-doubles a feat not often recorded in European basketball. McGill leading his team in scoring with 18 points but adding in an excellent 8 assists and an incredible 8 steals Johnson was equally impressive with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
This pair very much led the team throughout keeping the side balanced, disciplined and together throughout a forty minute effort where Newcastle won all four quarters. Tahj Green was immense on the glass adding 12 rebounds to 13 points for a superb supporting double-double.
Valmiera actually started the stronger on the night and led 17 – 9 halfway through the first period. Josh Ward-Hibbert stepping up and draining a triple for Newcastle to cut the deficit and then the rest of the side went to work.
Delpeche came off the bench to good effect and when Green nailed the final lay-up to put Newcastle three points up at 27 – 24 at the end of the first they were firmly in the groove.
It was close throughout the second with the Latvians showing their pedigree to come back and once again establish a five-point lead but McGill and Johnson kept the pressure on and were well supported.
An excellent 17 points to 6 finish to the half saw Newcastle in front 50 – 44 at the break with a solid platform to build on in the second twenty minutes. And build on it they did in fine style.
A scintillating start to the third saw the Eagles soar to a game-high 19-point lead and from there they controlled the game down the stretch. Valmiera did cut the gap back in the fourth to within nine points and Steutel called a time-out.
Out of the tactical discussion Johnson had an And-1 play and Devin Whitfield a triple and the lead jumped back up to 15 points and it was game over and a fine night’s work completed by the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles.
The Eagles now fly home and straight into a busy domestic league weekend with Manchester on Friday and a long road trip inside the British isles to Plymouth on Sunday.
Tickets for the Giants clash this Friday night are available now from the box office.