Date Time League Season
January 30, 2022 12:00 pm WBBL Cup Final 2021-22

Captain fantastic Marina Fernandez has promised Eagles fans that new-look Newcastle are fully locked in to today’s WBBL Cup final against London Lions.

And the super Spaniard insisted the women in black can spring a surprise or two against the hottest team in women’s hoops.

Unforeseen off-court challenges have dominated Newcastle’s pre-match narrative with injuries and illness further disrupting last week’s pre-match preparations.

But following Thursday’s announcement that Noelia Cacheiro will lead the club for the remainder of the season, a bullish Fernandez is looking to the future with confidence.

“There’s been a lot going on and there have been a lot of ups and downs,” admitted Fernandez.

“You could say there have been more downs than ups. But we won’t be fazed by the situation we find ourselves in.

“We’ve reached a point where we’re fully locked in for the final and we need to set aside all of the drama and all of the obstacles in our way.

“We’ve had our coach and some players leave and there have been injuries and illness to deal with too.

“We had to call off last weekend’s game at Cardiff and so we haven’t played for a couple of weeks.

“It’s not been the perfect preparation but all of that’s in the past.

“We need to get behind Noelia and make our fans proud because this is still an historic day for Newcastle Eagles basketball and the development of the women’s game in the North East.”

Fernandez recovered from Covid last week in time to take her place on court against a Lions side that’s roared to the top of the WBBL Championship table this season.

The capital’s big spenders have pulled off some spectacular results in Europe and sit joint top of the league with a formidable 11-0 record.

Nobody outside of the Newcastle camp is giving the Eagles a chance when the two teams lock horns from noon live on Sky Sports.

But Fernandez added: “We have to make sure that works in our favour.

“People are saying that there’s no doubt Newcastle will lose this game but people said the same during last season’s playoff quarter-finals and semis.

“There’s absolutely nothing to lose and we’re under no pressure at all. The pressure’s on London given their record, spending power and strength in depth.

“We go into the game without any limits and with everything to gain.

“If we can throw an early punch or two and make London think twice then who knows what might happen?

“Regardless of the result this is a huge weekend for women’s basketball in the North East.

“It’s the start of a new era for the club and a time to reset our expectations.

“We can only control the controllable and there’s nothing we can do about the talent that London have at their disposal.

“The Lions have something very special going on this season and they’ve been representing the WBBL and British basketball brilliantly.

“They do things the right way, they prepare super professionally and they boast threats across the court.

“We know all about London but it’s our job to throw a few surprises their way.”

Coach Cacheiro is expected to bolster Newcastle’s depleted bench with a handful of new faces prior to tip-off.

But how much court time any new recruits can expect at such short notice remains to be seen.

Newcastle officials have been working around the clock for the past seven days attempting to register new players in time for today’s big tip off.

And the Eagles were still hoping to confirm at least two new signings late last night.

“Right now it’s a case of the existing players trying to find some common ground with the new coach and any new players,” added Fernandez.

“We can’t flip everything we’ve been doing for the last six months and expect to be competitive against the Lions.

“Noelia is learning and we’re learning and it’s an incredibly steep learning curve!

“Of course, there’s an opportunity to add the odd play here and there but we have to make sure we get it right.

“It’s a case of finding that sweet spot between what we know and what we can learn with 72 hours’ notice.”

Fernandez is excited to be working alongside fellow Spaniard Cacheiro for the remainder of the season.

And she added: “We’ve known each other for a few years and as expats in Newcastle we’ve always had a lot in common.

“It’s a great appointment for the Eagles organisation and everyone’s looking forward to the future.”

The WBBL Cup Final will be live on Sky Sports Arena, Mix and their YouTube channel with all the build-up from 11:30am and tip-off at 12pm.