The Eagles will host two of European basketball’s core teams and the visitors are relishing the opportunity to test themselves against Britain’s best

Sodertalje Kings celebrate winning the Swedish national basketball title Sodertalje Kings celebrate winning the Swedish national basketball title

Newcastle Eagles are set to host the inaugural MKM Euro Invitational at Northumbria University’s Sport Central this summer and the visiting teams are relishing the chance to test themselves against Britain’s best basketball franchise.

Ahead of the pre-season tournament, the first of its kind on Tyneside, Newcastle Eagles’ Jeff King spoke to the two visiting international team coaches about their trip to the UK.

Belgium side Port of Antwerp Giants are one of the two teams visiting English shores and team manager Leo De Rycke is excited about the prospect of matching up against the Eagles.

He said: “We’re very much looking forward to this occasion. We have played everywhere in Europe (from Finland to Siberia) but never in GB so this will be a welcome first for our club and a great experience.

“[When Antwerp received the offer to play] We thought, ‘finally we can play a team from GB,’ which is something we’ve always wanted to do.

“We have wondered why their clubs don’t compete in Europe as there are many US schooled players playing in their league and the level of British basketball is high.”

Sodertalje Kings head coach Vedran Bosnic celebrates winning the Swedish national titleSodertalje Kings head coach Vedran Bosnic celebrates winning the Swedish national title

The tournament will provide the Eagles with some much-needed pre-season scrimmages and De Rycke believes the competition will be good for both clubs.

“It will be very important for our young group. In pre-season it’s very important to confront your players with different styles of basketball,” he added.

“Good competition and I know now already for sure we will keep in touch for the future. “Networking and getting to know other basketball cultures and experiences is an important thing for Antwerp.

“We think that the top four or five teams [in the BBL] could play in the Belgian league. It’s a league based on athleticism, offence and aggression. The Eagles are already for years a well respected team in the BBL and would be a great asset for European basketball.”

The chance to face off against some of the core of European basketball is a prospect to savour for Eagles fans and that feeling has been reciprocated by Sodertalje Kings head coach Vedran Bosnic.

Bosnic brings the Swedish champions to Tyneside alongside Antwerp and he is also excited about clashing at Sport Central.

Bosnic, who also coaches the Swedish national team, told the Eagles’ Jeff King: “I think it will be fantastic to be part of the Eagles’ tournament and play against three different teams with probably different styles of playing and understanding of the basketball game.


“We will try to do our best to compete in the tournament in the best way possible and learn something new from every game that can help us for our up coming season. We were very happy when we saw the possibility to be part of tournament.

“I have followed the BBL and Eagles in past years and I felt very positive about going to England and playing there.

“We already have very good experiences from England when we won a tournament in Plymouth in pre season 2011-12.

“The Eagles are a very strong team who have dominated British basketball in past years and it provides an excellent challenge for our team.”

As with Antwerp and Newcastle, this tournament will form part of the Kings pre-season preparation and the opportunity is one not to be missed.

“The BBL is a different way of playing basketball to Sweden. A lot of points in their games, generally pushing the ball and taking quick shots. One fast way of playing. The Eagles are the most complete team in the BBL in past years.”

The competition takes place at Northumbria University’s Sport Central Monday to Wednesday, September 7-9.