Date Time League Season
October 30, 2021 1:00 pm Women's Regular Season 2021-22

Chris Bunten admits he ‘hates losing’ as Newcastle Eagles WBBL look to avoid a fifth straight defeat at derby rivals Durham this afternoon.

Newcastle Eagles’ embattled playcaller heads south of the Tyne in search of an improved performance and two invaluable points.

But Bunten must kickstart a frustrating campaign without Courtney Clasen after the US star was finally ruled out for the remainder of the season.

“I hate losing and I haven’t enjoyed the last few weeks,” said Bunten, whose team started the season with successive wins before the wheels came off.

“It’s hugely frustrating and nobody would enjoy being in the position we’re in.

“I don’t want to be staring down the barrel at a 0-5 league record but the simple fact is that we didn’t deserve to win any of our previous four matches.

“We need to be better in every area and, however much I hate it, I’d even accept another loss this weekend if it meant that our performance levels improve.

“That’s the seriousness of the situation we’re in.

“In previous seasons I’ve been able to count on consistency from certain players week-in, week-out and that’s missing right now.

“Perhaps we were all guilty of believing our own hype during the opening weekend but right now this group of players needs to prove they can be a good team and a winning team.

“If everyone doesn’t step up soon and play to a higher level then it’s going to be a very long season for all of us.”

Newcastle destroyed Durham five weeks ago to take a one-sided WBBL clash 80-47 and set up a semi-final tie with Leicester Riders.

That big win came off the back of an equally convincing victory against Caledonia Pride 24 hours earlier and suggested a new-look Eagles team had what it takes to be contenders.

But four straight league losses in October have extinguished any early-season optimism and forced a rapid revision of the club’s top four target.

“Last Saturday against Leicester was a disappointing case in point,” added Bunten.

“It was a game we should have won but a match we deserved to lose.

“We gave up six turnovers in the first half but turned the ball over 13 times after the break.

“Our ability to look after the ball is poor and you don’t win games by giving the ball away.

“In addition, we need to commit to a full game.

“One half of better basketball isn’t enough and it certainly won’t be against Durham.”

Clasen missed last month’s cup clash against the Palatinates after injuring her leg 24 hours earlier.

And scans have revealed that the guard has, as first feared, torn her anterior cruciate ligament.

“It’s a huge blow and bitterly disappointing for everyone,” added Bunten.

“Courtney will be flying home within the next two weeks and unfortunately that’s her out for the season.

“It’s a situation we’re painfully familiar with but I’ve left the door open for her to return next season.

“Everyone at the Eagles wishes Courtney well and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that she makes a full recovery.”

Bunten does have skipper Marina Fernandez back in the fold after the Spaniard made a confident return to WBBL Championship action against the Riders last weekend.

But the Newcastle boss admitted he needs to manage his captain’s game time carefully given a succession of recent injuries.

“Marina tore her left Achilles tendon this time last year and hyper extended her knee on the same leg a few weeks ago,” he explained.

“It’s clearly something we need to keep on top of. It’s a potential area of weakness but the support she’s receiving from Northumbria University’s specialists staff means Marina is in the best hands possible.”

This afternoon’s WBBL derby at Maiden Castle tips off at 1pm and fans catch watch the action live on the WBBL YouTube channel.