An entertaining game at the Benfield Sports Centre last night saw an Eagles Select side edge past the Scottish National squad in front of a packed gym writes Jeff King. Those loyal Eagles fans that turned up for this hastily arranged friendly were well rewarded as an energy packed and commitment young Newcastle line-up deservedly took the spoils.
From the senior side Head Coach Fab Flournoy led the side that contained powerhouse forward Darius Defoe, bench players Jamie Glen and Aaron Neilsen. In addition ex-Eagle Brian McCotter returned to the roster to complete the starting five.
Neilsen was entrusted with both the Captaincy and point guard position and his play-calling and confidence grew as the game went on as he went on to lead his side in scoring with 18-points. Glen and Defoe gave him great support with 15 and 14 respectively with Defoe in particular being strong inside in the first half.
One of the highlights though for a Newcastle organisation committed to schooling their young players in excellence was the 11-point performance from the bench of 17-year old Ross Wilson. Wilson who was the first ever recipient of the Eagles School of Excellence Player of the Year award back in 2008 showed he may well have a future at this level if he continues to work hard.
And it was hard work, energy, hustle and the trademark of all Flournoy’s teams, defence that gave this scratch side the momentum and platform to pull off a winner against a Scottish side using the game as preparation for their up and coming Euro Championship Division C campaign in Malta this July.
The Scots were certainly no pushovers and in Sydney-born Great Britain International ex-Eagle Steve Leven had the star performer of the night. Leven who qualifies for Scotland through his Edinburgh-born father poured in 29-points during the game showing his undoubted scoring prowess.
Certainly if Scotland are to progress in their Euro Campaign it could well be that they will rely heavily on the former Newcastle hot-shot to lead their side in that campaign and he certainly seems to have found a team where his abilities can be maximised to the full.
But this was a night to remember for the young Eagles and they showed that the future of North East basketball is indeed bright as every one of them played a part in securing a memorable victory. After leading after the first quarter 24 – 22 Newcastle found themselves down 42 – 35 at the half.
In the second half they restricted Scotland to just 24 points with their fourth quarter surge being the decisive effort. The final ten minutes saw The Eagles flying high as they closed the game with a 25 – 12 period to keep the honour of the English well intact.
NEWCASTLE EAGLES SELECT – Aaron Neilsen 18, Jamie Glen 15, Darius Defoe 13
SCOTLAND – Steve Leven 29, Ross Campbell 14.