‘Party-crasher’ Tajh Green is eager to play the spoiler in Scotland by helping the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles end Caledonia Gladiators’ perfect home record.
The improving Eagles face a stern test north of the border tonight as they battle their fierce rivals at the Playsport Arena for the first time.
Caledonia have won a magnificent seven out of seven – five in the league and two in the FIBA Europe Cup – since moving into the purpose-built venue last month.
But going into the Gladiators’ new coliseum does not faze American giant Green. In fact, he cannot wait for the opportunity to play the party-pooper by ending the Scots’ perfect record in their new home.
He said: “I always like to crash the party – I don’t know about anybody else, that’s just the type of player I’ve always been. That’s how I came up when it comes to playing against rivals.
“To be honest, a win away is always a good win to me because you have to beat the team in their own atmosphere, you’re coming into their court. This is a new gym for them and that adds to it so giving them a loss in their new arena would be great for us.”
Even having spent the first season of his professional career with Manchester Giants, Green is still getting used to British Basketball League life.
The big man admitted he was not previously aware of the rivalry between Newcastle and their Scottish opponents.
But he said that learning there is history between the cross-border clubs definitely adds a bit of spice to proceedings.
He said: “Playing away at a rival is always to be tough. Playing away is always tough as it is, and I look at it as trying to prove a point.
“When there’s a rivalry involved, that means there’s history there that was already written before I got in this league. Just to be a part of it and to win another game against that rival, that’s good for me.”
He added: “I’m going to attack it like any game by playing with energy. We don’t have home-court advantage so we have to go against the team, the refs, the crowd, the atmosphere, everything. It’s just us and the coach and the fans that will travel. It’s about your team, all of us just being locked in.”
Tonight’s 8pm clash against last season’s BBL Trophy winners, which comes just 24 hours after the Eagles hosted Plymouth City Patriots, gives Marc Steutel’s side a chance to build on recent form.
After a slow start to their domestic campaign, the men in black have started living up to their lofty pre-season billing.
Green believes there is always room for improvement as a player but he also had a warning for the rest of the league as he believes the Eagles are still yet to hit their peak.
He said: “Teams get better as the season goes on and we’re going to get better as the season goes on.
“We have some I would say adversity at the beginning of the season – still learning how to play with each other, figuring out our connections – but we were a tough team to play against. I feel like any team that’s going to play us now, the way that we are clicking, it’s going to be a tough game regardless of whatever happens. It’s always going to be a tough game going against us.”
The South Carolina native added that nothing significant has changed behind the scenes to spark the recent good run.
But with the team’s chemistry and intensity ramping up, Green expects performances to keep improving.
The 6’8” forward said of the upturn in form: “It’s just us being more locked in and seeing what we can do better on the defensive and the offensive end. We’re working on the defensive end because when we played the defence well, the offence opens up and we’ll be able to score.
“Coach always says that when we actually play defence and get stops, then we are a crazy team to go against. He always emphasised defence, from day one, and I thought when he brought this group in, everybody could play defence and be locked into the type of defence he wanted us to play.”
Fans can watch tonight’s action live from Caledonia’s new Playsport arena on the British Basketball League YouTube channel and on screens in the Vertu Motors Arena during and after tonight’s Eagles women’s tip-off against London Lions.