Date Time League Season
April 19, 2024 7:30 pm Men's Championship 2023-24

Josh Ward-Hibbert is convinced Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles fans will see the best of the men in black as the race for the final trophy of the season hots up.

The Tynesiders wrap up their regular season campaign with two games inside 24 hours this weekend — starting with a sold-out Friday night homecourt clash against Championship runners-up Cheshire Phoenix.

Eagles Men are still chasing a 4th placed finish as Cheshire Phoenix visit the Vertu Motors Arena. (Photos: Cheshire Phoenix)

But playoff basketball is dominating the minds of Marc Steutel’s men after Newcastle stamped their ticket for the post-season party last month.

“Making the playoff final on May 19 is what we’ve been working towards since day one and our fate is still in our hands,” said Ward-Hibbert.

“It’s an exciting place to be and we trust in the process.

“We back ourselves to beat any team in this league — and we’ve beaten them all this season.

“We’re not focused on who we might face in the playoffs or where we might finish this weekend because that doesn’t matter.

“It’s about staying on track, coming together and believing in ourselves in the big moments.

“That will give us all of the momentum we need heading into the playoffs.”
Ward-Hibbert is expected to face Phoenix off the bench after missing last weekend’s double defeat.

And while the experienced guard cut a frustrated spectator during the shock losses against Bristol and Surrey, he saw enough to face the Phoenix with confidence.

Eagles Men will be hoping to put on a show for the last home game of the regular season. (Photos: Gary Forster)

“We lost those games because we played poorly in spells but there were positives too,” he added.

“And what those defeats were down to were individual mistakes that led to a collective lapse.

“But if every player on this roster can find an extra five per cent then the cumulative effect will be huge.

“We can make each other better by identifying where each of us needs to improve.

“We’ve talked a lot this week about improving our individual games to make the unit as a whole much stronger.”

Cheshire have already secured second place in the league and it’s likely key players will play fewer minutes across the final weekend of regular season action.

Cheshire Phoenix have already secured second place. (Photos: Abbie Orwin)

But whatever Phoenix five starts against the Eagles doesn’t concern Ward-Hibbert as he looks for evidence of a playoff-ready mentality within his own locker room.

“Cheshire boast a good balance and there are a lot of dudes who can do a lot of things on that team,” he added.

“They’ve got some interchangeable weapons there and that benefitted them all season.

“But is it really much different to what we’ve got?

“I don’t think so and heading into the final weekend of regular season basketball there’s still very little separating the teams in second to eighth.

“We match up well with the Phoenix — we’ve beaten them and they’ve beaten us so who knows what will happen this weekend?
“Everyone’s just excited to get back on court and show our fans that we can find our best form heading into the playoffs.

“Trusting in the talent we have on this team will bring the right results and create the momentum we need.”

Seven defeats in 10 games is hardly the perfect preparation for the playoffs but Ward-Hibbert won’t tolerate negativity.

Convinced Newcastle can make May’s final he added: “I know we’re good enough.

“I know we can put together two winning performances this weekend and put ourselves in a strong position heading into the playoffs.”

The Vertu Motors Arena is sold-out, but fans can still catch the action live on the British Basketball League’s YouTube channel.