Date Time League Season
January 5, 2024 7:45 pm Men's Trophy 2023-24

Marc Steutel has pleaded with British Basketball League bosses to take a fresh look at the fixture list after expressing fears that player welfare is at stake.

Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles tip off against Manchester Giants at the Vertu Motors Arena tonight less than 24 hours after last night’s clash in London was due to finish.

And the men in black aren’t alone in facing the kind of fixture congestion that leaves little room for recovery or adequate preparation.

The decision to squeeze this season’s Trophy competition into four weeks has thrown up energy-sapping double headers across the league and Great Britain boss Steutel said: “I’d like to take the opportunity to talk about the scheduling.

“I’ve had the conversation internally and externally already this season but this week seems like the right time to reopen the debate.

“People talk about the product that is the British Basketball League and how it’s reaching far and wide and even broadcasting in America this season.

“All of that’s extremely positive but the scheduling is something that needs to be looked at immediately in my opinion.”

Steutel’s role as national team boss means his concerns about the wellbeing of players extend far beyond Tyneside.

And with a new international window on the horizon it’s little wonder the playcaller has chosen to readdress a challenging situation.

“I watch pretty much every game and I can see it in other teams too when their schedule’s been heavy,” he added.

“There is a significant load on the players which increases their potential for injury.

“That’s the case across the league but of course the priority this week is my team and the focus is my players.

“We went into the London game wanting to win and I was determined to be 100 per cent present in terms of achieving that aim down there.

“But as a coach you have to have in mind that you’re playing 24 hours later.

“This will be our third back-to-back this season and I think we have four or five off the top of my head.

“That’s really challenging because it doesn’t give the players adequate rest and recovery and the opportunity for them to be at their best physically. It’s really frustrating in that sense.”

Steutel might be frustrated at what he perceives to be an unnecessary added pressure but he insisted his players simply get on with the job.

“This is me taking the opportunity to voice and vent but within the group there won’t be any excuses and we are doing all that we can to try and get the wins,” he added.

“This group is uber competitive and uber connected and uber together so they’ll be doing all that they can to beat the Giants.

“But this is something that the league needs to be looking at. Player welfare should be at the forefront of any future scheduling.”

Tonight’s clash against Manchester — screened live on Sky Sports Arena (with subscription) and Mix (free to all Sky customers) as well on the Sky Sports YouTube channel — tips off at 7:45pm.

Limited tickets are still available from the box office in advance or on the door.