Date Time League Season
February 9, 2024 7:45 pm Men's Championship 2023-24

Fit-again Josh Ward-Hibbert expects two of the most forward-thinking franchises in British basketball to serve up a typically feisty cross-border battle tonight.

The former London forward wants both Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles and Caledonia Gladiators to flourish at home and abroad for seasons to come.

But Ward-Hibbert draws the line at helping the Scots to become a perennial powerhouse at Newcastle’s expense — and won’t be rolling out the welcome mat at the Vertu Motors Arena.

“Where Glasgow go in the next few years is down to them but, from an outsider looking in, I think they’re doing great things — for themselves and for the league,” said the experienced Eagles all-rounder.

“The more teams that aspire to do the things they’re talking about the better.

“It’s great for British basketball and I hope that they continue to get the support that they’ve got this year and continue to progress on and off the court.

“As a club I hope they flourish but come Friday it’s a different story. I don’t want things to go their way this weekend.”

Ward-Hibbert was in the form of his life before an enforced layoff last month.

But Newcastle’s summer signing looked like he’d never been away as he suited up against London and Cheshire last weekend.

Our Eagles aim to get back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats against London Lions and Cheshire Phoenix. (Photos: Gary Forster)

And one of head coach Marc Steutel’s statement recruits added: “I feel good.

“I think I needed the time to recover but my body feels great now and, mentally, getting back on court has been really positive.

“Being at the practice sessions and in the weight room with the guys has felt good and with the other guys coming back too it feels as if things are moving in the right direction.

“Not everybody’s in the same position — some of the guys coming back from injury need some more time to feel comfortable in their own bodies.

“But I think everyone coming back means we’re gearing up to be in good shape at the right time of the year.

“For me it’s definitely exciting and I think all of the guys are looking forward to the day when we can field a full team. There’s a lot to look forward to.”

Gladiators head south looking good for a top four Championship finish and homecourt advantage in the end-of-season playoffs.

But Gareth Murray’s men face a Newcastle roster in buoyant mood after the Eagles sealed their place in the ENBL playoffs on Tuesday night…without shooting a ball.

Our Eagles have reached the play-offs in the ENBL. (Photos: ENBL)

Liege’s defeat against Šiauliai guaranteed Steutel’s men a top four finish in Group B and Ward-Hibbert added: “It’s been a very tough year for a lot of people within the club.

“A lot of players have gone down at different times but I think that’s just made our team, as a whole, stronger.

“We’re very hard-headed and so no matter who goes down we still have this grit and determination and belief in ourselves that we’re still able to win games and compete in games regardless of what five, seven or 10 is kitting up that day.

“With that in mind it’s great that we’ve qualified for the ENBL playoffs.

“Our mindset going into the final three group games was to take care of business and win all three — knowing that would get us to the quarter-finals.

“To achieve that with a game to spare is a huge achievement.

“The energy we’ve brought to the European stage will carry through into our league games at home and make for an exciting second half of the season.”

Tonight’s Caledonia clash, live on Sky Sports and the British Basketball League’s YouTube channel, tips off at 7.45pm. Remaining tickets are available at the box office.