The fabulous start Esh Group Eagles Newcastle made at Leeds Force when they broke two BBL records in their 148 – 60 win, most points scored and biggest margin of victory, was based around a complete team performance, writes Jeff King.

The back-court guard duo of Saah Nimley and Jaysean Paige combined for 57 points and came away with most of the individual plaudits but that would be down-playing the supporting role the rest of the new-exciting look Eagles roster played.

Indeed, Croatian Jure Gunjina came up with 19 points and 9 rebounds in a performance which was not only solid but was from the bench showing the depth of this Eagles side. Gunjina, himself, was delighted with the side’s opening game and pleased with his overall contribution.


“It was a really good start for the team. I was not expecting us to win by that much distance. I mean I knew we were going to be ready for it, for the start of the game and the new referring calls and that but I think we over-achieved on what we were expecting to do before the start of the game.”

“I was pleased with my own contribution but that is not really a team we can compare ourselves with when we’re fighting for the Championship and teams like Leeds won’t be but it was still a good start that I was pleased with.”

“We just all need to keep that going and me, myself, I need to do that every game and keep on improving as well.”


There’s no doubting that Gunjina looks more than capable of playing an important part in his side’s challenge but he’s more than aware that he, and they, still have plenty to work on.

“We’ve come back from that win and we’re working hard in training. I’m trying to improve day on day, practice by practice. We’re all still trying to gel as a team. I think from the beginning when we came together until now we’ve improved a lot and I think we’re going to keep improving too.

“I’m very excited for the game”

The Eagles fans will certainly hope they keep improving and are looking forward to seeing their new-look team in action on Friday night in the first home BBL Championship game against Glasgow Rocks. Gunjina is also looking forward to that experience.

“I’m very excited for the game, that’s why I play basketball, for the fans for the excitement and just for the basketball you know, it’s fun to do that in front of your own fans especially when you have a big support like we do in Newcastle.”


The atmosphere should be quite something on Friday night as the excitement of the promising pre-season was translated in to that exceptional performance against Leeds and it is something that Gunjina and his team-mates want to consolidate against Glasgow.

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