The final piece of Esh Group Eagles Newcastle’s 2018/19 jigsaw has been slotted into place with the confirmation that fans’ favourite Drew Lasker is returning for his sixth consecutive season.

One of head coach Fab Flournoy’s most trusted lieutenants, the veteran England international guard heads into his 14th BBL campaign determined to bring a mix of energy and experience to an evolving roster.

“It feels great to be back in an Eagles uniform again,” he said. “It will be good to be back among the most passionate fans in the BBL.

“I received so many messages from Eagles’ supporters wanting me to return and it’s always great to be wanted!”

Along with forward Darius Defoe and Flournoy, Lasker forms part of a vital veteran leadership core underpinning Newcastle’s ethos and mentality.

And he added: “I’m excited to be part of the club during this new journey as we prepare for the Eagles Community Arena to open up.

“We are creating a new legacy for the Eagles and I’m blessed to be a part of that.

“The team is looking very strong from one through 11 and the staff has done a great job putting together another exciting roster.

“I feel confident that we will compete to become the top club in the league again. My role will remain the same and I’ll continue to be one of the voices and leaders of the team.”

Flournoy was delighted to confirm the re-signing of Lasker and underlined his importance to Newcastle ahead of this week’s prestigious pre-season trip to Belgium.

“It’s great to have Drew back,” said the Eagles’ playcaller. “He’s extremely professional in everything he does and has an enormous knowledge of our league.

“Drew has won multiple trophies with us and is critical to establishing the culture around the team. On top of all that he remains a very talented basketball player.”

Lasker added to his resume when playing for England earlier this year at the Commonwealth Games.

And the Houston native continues his development off the court after he was confirmed as the new head coach of Gateshead College.

“I am extremely excited to be named head coach of Gateshead College,” he added. “This is an unprecedented role as I take on being a full-time professional basketball player and a head coach.

“I am very thankful that the club believe in me and feel I am able to balance the two roles and be successful in both.

“I am going into this season with very high expectations of myself. I’m excited about continuing my playing career as well as developing professionally off the court.”

That development begins with Lasker lining up alongside his team-mates to contest prestigious friendlies against Spirou Charleroi and Okapi Aalstar this weekend.

Newcastle continue their pre-season programme next month with back-to-back clashes against BBL rivals Sheffield Sharks and a Team USA Select side.

Tickets are available now at just £9 per person per game (reduced to £8 for 2018-19 season ticket holders) or you can save by booking both games at just £16 per person (reduced to £12 for season ticket holders) and can be booked online or by calling 0191 2453880