Marc Steutel insists he’ll forever be indebted to Bristol Flyers playcaller Andreas Kapoulas as two friends and rivals prepare to lock horns in the British Basketball League’s game of the weekend.
And the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles head coach revealed he’ll be rooting for his big pal again this season — just as soon as the final buzzer sounds on tonight’s hotly anticipated clash.
Steutel and Kapoulas enjoyed a run of headline grabbing homecourt success at the helm of Great Britain’s national team with the pair picking up a series of big-name scalps on Tyneside.
And Steutel explained: “Andreas supported me in ways that nobody else could imagine when I was first appointed as acting head coach of the national team.
“I’ll always be indebted to him for the sacrifices he made and the commitment and dedication he showed to the Great Britain cause.
“He did it all at the drop of a hat and I’m incredibly proud of what we went on to achieve together.
“I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for Andreas as a coach and as a person and what he achieved last season with the Flyers was fantastic to see.
“He recruits so well that he’s almost become a victim of his own success. “Bristol were an incredible team to watch last season and they’ve got off to another great start again this time around.
“I really wish him well this season — apart from when his team plays Newcastle!”
Bristol eased past Plymouth City Patriots last weekend to get their regular season off to a winning start.
But the Flyers are still fine-tuning a roster requiring a rebuild with former Eagle Rowell Graham-Bell recruited on a short-term deal earlier this week.
The highly-rated forward suffered a season-ending injury on Tyneside 12 months ago but remained in the North East until last month to complete his rehabilitation.
And Steutel added: “It’s fantastic to see Rowell back in the British Basketball League with a club like Bristol.
“He’s put a tremendous amount of work into his recovery and has overcome a horrible injury.
“Rowell was a key part of the group throughout last season and he invested a huge amount of his time into the local community.
“He was with us for most of this summer completing his rehab and it’s credit to him and our medical team that he’s been able to secure the move to Bristol.”
Graham-Bell faces an in-form Tajh Green at what’s expected to be a sold-out SGS College Arena tonight.
Newcastle’s explosive summer recruit from Manchester Giants racked up a double double [correct] on debut against Sheffield Sharks last week.
But Green suffered two bouts of painful cramp on opening night — just a week after picking up a minor knock against USA Select.
“Tajh is fine and we’ll really benefit from his infectious energy down there,” added Steutel.
“Bristol’s always a tough place to go but I love facing the Flyers on their home court. I love the atmosphere inside their arena and I’ll be urging my players to feed off that and enjoy the experience.”
Neither Darius Defoe nor Scott Spencer are expected to suit up against Bristol as both players continue their recovery from pre-season knocks.
Tonight’s clash tips off at 7.30pm and the action will be streamed live and for free on the British Basketball League’s YouTube channel.