Newcastle Eagles go into tonight’s game at Sheffield Sharks still looking for their first league win of the season
The Eagles did pick up a terrific 77-75 win on the road at Plymouth last Sunday but that was in the BBL Cup.
So, they’ll be keen to get that first victory in the Championship under their belts as they face arch-rivals Sheffield. For Sheffield it’s a chance to win two league games in a row and their first at home after also winning on the road last Sunday at Cheshire.
Eagles will once again go into the game with a different line-up as it’s widely expected that new USA forward Donovan Johnson will make his Newcastle debut. A fact that could help Head Coach Marc Steutel’s game plan as his side look for a vital victory.
Centre Duke Shelton who was not originally on Steutel’s scouting radar but forced his way onto the roster with some great pre-season displays and is averaging 9.3 points and 9.7 rebounds a game spoke about the situation at the Eagles currently.
“We had a tough weekend with the double-header but I thought it went pretty well. London in the league at home and then the long road trip to Plymouth. We did well for thirty minutes against London.”
“But they stretched it out in that third quarter and I don’t think anyone’s expected to beat them this year. We were happy with the way we contained their guards. Then we went to Plymouth and were very, very happy getting a win in a very tough environment.”
“It’s always nice to get a win and especially when it was the first one of the season. We’ve seen one now and we’re ready to see some more. We’ve just got to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves and keeping our focus on us.”
That focus is something Shelton and The Eagles need to take into Sheffield which is another tough matchup for Newcastle. The two sides met in Newcastle in pre-season with the Sharks coming out with the win. But tonight, sees a much-changed Eagles roster taking to the court.
“From pre-season to now we’ve improved a lot and I’m sure they have too. We’ve added a few new pieces to our roster and we’re starting to really get into synch with each other. We’re right there now and need to ensure we control what we can control.”
As mentioned Shelton was not originally feted to be a part of this season’s roster but surprisingly he’s not that surprised he is.
“It’s all well at the moment but as with every player I know I can play better. I just need to stay consistent in my role and making sure I’m doing my job and then that translates to the rest of the team.”
“I wouldn’t say I was that surprised to be at Newcastle. It’s kind of weird as I always had a feeling that I would be here. Sort of a premonition.”
Shelton’s feelings about tonight’s games was as much about what his teammates and he need to do to stop Sheffield playing their own game and then in turn playing their own.
“We’re going to have to contain their three main guys. Glasgow, Ratinho and Nelson. They’re the second leading rebounding team in the league so we have to make sure we box out and take care of the transition defence and stick to the scouting report.”
“If we do that then I’m confident we can do a good job and give ourselves every chance of coming away with a win.”
The game at Ponds Forge, Sheffield tips-off at the slightly later time of 7:45pm and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Mix and YouTube.