Malcolm Delpeche couldn’t have asked for a kinder draw after the British Basketball League’s fixture list served up an immediate return to his former club.
But the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles star will not allow emotion to narrow his focus ahead of Friday’s regular season trip to Bristol.
Delpeche makes no secret of the fact that he enjoyed every minute of his successful tenure with the Flyers.
And Newcastle’s big man was a big part of Bristol’s eye-catching 2022/23 campaign as the fast-improving franchise emerged as shock title contenders.
“I joined the Eagles after back-to-back seasons with the Flyers and so of course there’s a lot of history there,” said the 6ft 8in forward.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to go back down there and compete against my former club.
“It was great to see the schedule work out that way and that match-up means a lot to me for obvious reasons.
“But I’m an Eagles player now and Friday represents another opportunity for this team to reach a higher level.”
Delpeche was in determined mood as Newcastle opened their account with a hard-fought win against Sheffield last Thursday.
And if a stacked Eagles roster failed to fire on all cylinders against the battling Sharks then a victory rooted in discipline delighted the former Flyer.
“We had a winning pre-season but one of the things coach Steutel talks about in the locker room is how we deal with adversity,” added Delpeche.
“One of the big things we took away from last week’s performance was that we found a way to win down the stretch.
“We’re in great shape physically and we’re a very dynamic team.
“But we were mentally strong in the final quarter against Sheffield — we’re all competitors and when things don’t go our way we want to put that right.
“We’ll do everything in our power to win games by whatever means necessary and 100 per cent effort is non-negotiable.
“Whether we’re up or down we’ll put in the maximum effort.”
Delpeche will have his work cut out against Brad Greene after the Bristol big picked up the MVP award on the back of 23 points and 10 boards in last week’s win against Plymouth.
And something will have to give as two of the league’s fast starters look to maintain their winning form.
“Fans come to see exciting basketball and I’m sure the back and forth games on the opening weekend will have got supporters out of their seats,” added Delpeche.
“It was my first experience of competitive basketball as a Newcastle player and the Sheffield fixture gave me a glimpse of what game nights are like at the Vertu Motors Arena.
“I can’t wait to get back there but for now the focus is on Bristol and another big game for both teams.”
Head coach Marc Steutel will assess the fitness of Darius Defoe and Scott Spencer before making a call on whether either player boards the bus for Bristol.
But with a packed fixture list at home and abroad, the Eagles playcaller is in no mood to take any risks.
Full coverage of our Eagles game on the road at Bristol Flyers will be available live on the British Basketball League’s YouTube channel and across our social media channels.