Date Time League Season
October 21, 2023 8:00 pm Men's Championship 2023-24

Darius Defoe is determined to kickstart his season and make up for lost time as Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles go in search of back-to-back wins in Bristol tonight.

The men in black stunned homecourt fans last month as they closed out a hard-fought 81-74 victory at the SGS College Arena.

But a frustrated Defoe was forced to watch on from the sidelines after picking up an ankle injury in pre-season.

“This time I’m ready to make a real contribution,” said the British Basketball League’s most decorated star.

Devin Whitfield taking on the Bristol Flyers at the SGS is looking forward to being a part of history as the Eagles enter European competition for the first time (Photo: JS Sports Photography)

“I took my role as a cheerleader seriously down there and I got a front row seat for what was an impressive performance.

“The guys did so well and what they achieved against a very strong team was pretty impressive.

“But I wanted to be out there with them. I hate being injured and I’d have played on one leg if the medical staff had let me.

“I’m still not where I want to be in terms of full match fitness but I know I can contribute this time around.

“I’m getting up to speed and it feels good to be part of the group again.”

Defoe returned to action in Lithuania earlier this month and played a key role coming off the bench in London on Monday.

That performance provided a glimpse of what Newcastle are capable of and fuelled a fresh sense of positivity heading into this weekend’s crunch double header.

Defoe was looking for further improvement against Leicester Riders last night ahead of this morning’s early departure for the south west.

And he added: “It’s a tight turnaround but we’ll be ready. We know what to expect in Bristol. Coach Kapoulas has put together another tough team down there and they’ll be looking for revenge.

“The crowd’s right on top of you at their arena and as soon as the Flyers get going it can get loud in there.

Jordan Johnson in action during the Eagles last visit to the SGS College Arena (Photo: JS Sports Photography)

“Bristol have built something really special in the last few years but it’s our job to go in there and quieten the supporters from the tip.”

Defoe and fellow senior pro Josh Ward-Hibbert have been charged with helping a transitional roster find its feet on and off the court this season.

And the former added: “Josh has been a big influence already. I’m too old to be keeping tabs on these guys day in, day out but he’s been around the British basketball league for a long time now and knows the score.

“I think both of us believe there’s so much more to come from this group. We’re only just getting started.

Rickey McGill in action in the Eagles win against the Bristol Flyers (Photo & Featured Photo: JS Sports Photography)

“London last Monday meant a lot to everybody once we got over the loss. They’re the best team in the country and we made them work for that win.

“I was so proud of everyone who went down there — coaches, support staff, fans and players. It was a collective effort and it was tough to fall short.

“We moved through the gears during that game but there’s further to go. We play London again next week so let’s wait and see but for now the focus is on bringing home the points from Bristol.”

Tonight’s clash tips off at 8pm and the action is screened live and for free via the British Basketball League’s YouTube channel.