Marina Fernandez is confident Newcastle’s returning stars can set the tone and point the way after another familiar face committed her future to the Eagles.

The popular forward excelled in the face of adversity last season to prove her quality and fitness.

And fellow Spaniard Noelia Cacheiro was keen to retain the services of captain fantastic Fernandez… after sealing deals to return Chloe Gaynor and Rachael Bland to the Vertu Motors Arena.

“Starting a new season alongside Chloe and Rachael is something I’m really looking forward to,” admitted Fernandez.

“We experienced lots of ups and downs together during the last 12 months but we stuck together and stayed the course.


“There’s a chemistry between us and we understand each other on and off the court.

“That will be a huge positive and the three of us will be able to set the tone from the first day of practice.”

This time last year Fernandez faced the unknown after completing a year-long rehabilitation programme.

The 25-year-old feared she may never rediscover her best form following months on the sidelines nursing a serious Achilles tendon injury.

But Fernandez scored 251 league points and clocked up 638 Championship minutes playing a variety of roles under two different coaches last season.

And any doubts about her long-term fitness have been firmly put to bed with the Barcelona-based star relishing the chance to kick on under Cacheiro.

“I have a totally different mindset going into this season,” added Fernandez.

“This time last year I had low expectations when it came to my overall performance as I hadn’t played competitive basketball for 10 months.

“I worked really hard to get back on court but I was full of uncertainty and just didn’t know whether I’d ever look or feel like the player I once was.

“This summer I’m approaching pre-season feeling comfortable and confident.

“Last season becomes the baseline and I intend to take the next step and move forward.”

Injuries, illness and frequent player exits forced Fernandez to take on a variety of roles last season.

And no challenge was too great for the firm fan favourite as she did everything asked of her — often in the toughest of circumstances.

“It was a very different and difficult season for me in many ways,” added Fernandez.

“I found myself in an adverse situation where I simply had to do whatever the team needed me to do.

“I adopted roles that weren’t necessarily in my nature — sometimes that meant I had to score points and sometimes it meant I had to make passes.

“It was tough but I had the opportunity to build my confidence and boost my match fitness.

“I was a long way outside of my comfort zone but I proved to myself that I could manage the workload and be effective.”

Fernandez peaked with 32 points, seven rebounds and three assists during a Herculean 40-minute display at Cardiff in April.

And although that was a game Newcastle lost it proved to be the ultimate show of strength from the Spaniard and team-mates Bland and Gaynor.

“We showed what we could do in that game with no players on the bench and nothing but pride to play for,” added Fernandez.

“Imagine what we can do under Noelia with a full pre-season under our belts and a little more strength in depth?

“Last season, in the final few weeks, we were just surviving. This season we can be way better than that.”

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