It has been a very fragmented start to the 2022/23 season for the Newcastle Eagles Ladies team.
Injuries and unavailability of players meant Noelia Cacheiro’s team has only played three WBBL fixtures so far this campaign.
Indeed, they even had to forfeit a BBL Cup game against Essex Rebels as they could not field a full team. A disappointment for Cacheiro who did though take comfort from the break to get her players ready for this afternoon against Sheffield Hatters.
The Hatters represent a tough opponent for Cacheiro’s ladies today but the play-calling Spaniard is confident that with new signing Maggie Justinak from the Metropolitan State University of Denver in the side and several players fit again her charges can give a good account of themselves.
“We do have a team for the Hatters game, some people are still recovering, but we gave some an extra weekend”, said Cacheiro.
“We’ve only had a couple of light sessions this week so that everyone was managing their injuries all right.
“The physios have done a great job with them and although we’re still minus a couple of players everyone else is ready to go.
Cacheiro is well aware of Justinak’s abilities and feels she can really help her team.
“Maggie has been with me at Newcastle University”, the combo Newcastle University BUCS and Eagles WBBL head coach added.
“She’s a very aggressive guard who definitely has a scoring and offensive mentality and she’s tough on defence. I think she’s going to be great help for the team.
“She’ll give us a very needed addition to our rotation and hopefully help us with our main weakness right now which seems obvious to every team which is getting the ball over the halfway line when they press.
The ladies did put in a spirited performance last time out against Sevenoaks Suns only going down 82 – 67 against a powerhouse side. New American forward Nette Lewis with a very impressive 24 point 13 rebound debut and Katie Nolan with another double-double.
“Going down to Sevenoaks is never easy and we pretty much only had five fully fit players”, Cacheiro continued.
“It was a really tough game but the girls rose up to the challenge. Coming back from Sevenoaks with a 15-point loss when we finished that game with only four healthy players was a massive achievement.
“For me it was only the lack of rotation, running out of juice and the spell coming out of the third quarter when we found it difficult to score was what really hurt us and made that difference.
So some positives to take into Sheffield this afternoon. The Hatters are a side that Cacheiro know are a tough and dangerous opponent.
“Sheffield are one of those teams that no-one wants to play”, the Spanish coach commented.
“They are very aggressive, very intense and there’s no truce with them. It’s forty minutes of hard work. You have to look after the ball and you can’t put your heads down and you have to be very mentally and physically active.
“They have a very good squad and a very good team. They are not very deep and if we had a full squad I’d be very confident that we’d be competing with them. We will go out and give them a game but I just wish it was with a full squad for sure.”
The Eagles WBBL game tips off at 1:30pm at Ponds Forge and will be followed by the men’s BBL clash between the Sharks and the Eagles. Both games can be watched live on the leagues’ YouTube channels.