A 67-point home loss is not normally cause for optimism for the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles but Captain Marina Fernandez does believe the 115 – 48 loss to Women’s British Basketball league powerhouse London Lions is also not cause for concern.
She knew going into the game it was going to be tough as she assessed the overall performance, saying.
“Our main goal for the game was to show fight for 40 minutes. We’ve had some difficult circumstances with the change of coach and not being able to have multiple training sessions which is challenging for the group.”
“We went in knowing London are a very, very good and deep team and having lots of success. So, it was a matter for us of going in giving everything we had and sticking together as a unit. We had a short bench and had to manage some player’s minutes as well.”
“We have many things to improve on and I think that will come with time and we will get to those. But for now I was pleased with the pride and the grit and the fight that we showed throughout the game.”
Playing against London Lions in either the Men’s or Women’s domestic League at the moment is a real challenge and Fernandez played tribute to their opponents from last Saturday night.
“They are very difficult to play against. They are very talented 1 through 5 and 1 through the 9 they had playing against us. They are all very skilled and can all score at all three levels. They can go to the basket; they can shoot the mid-range and they can shoot 3s.”
“They also play unselfishly. They moved the ball around. They passed good shots for better shots and they have the ability to read the game as well as being very physical and athletic.”
“They are a team that punish you for any defensive mistakes and offensively to challenge them you need to be at your best and if you don’t do so you’ll get punished with transition with open threes, with second chance opportunities on the boards.”
“So yes, they challenge you in every aspect of the game at all times.”
This was of course new Head Coach Matt Newby’s first game in charge on the side lines and once again Fernandez felt that it was a great chance to see his new players both as individuals and as a team.
“I thought it was a great chance for Matt to see us facing adversity. Obviously a really, really tough opponent but I’m a great believer that’s when you show your true self and your true character individually and as a team.”
“It was a very good opportunity for Matt to evaluate our character individually and as a team. London really exposes your weaknesses with decision making with second opportunities and stuff.”
“Those are things that Matt got to evaluate against the most dominant team in the league by far. London is setting the bar high for the British Basketball League but I think that’s what your aiming for.”
“You’re trying to compete against the best team in the League. I think it was a blessing in disguise because Matt has a much better understanding of who he’s got in the locker room and who he’s working with.”
“I’m sure he’s identified the main areas that we definitely need to improve on and what our strengths are.”
There are strong rumours that The Eagles will be bringing in new faces very soon to help bolster their roster and help them stabilise and move forward this season. With Cherita Daughtery back in the USA rehabbing and Celena Tayborn released this is something the Eagles Captain feels is essential.
“It’s a no-brainer. We’re definitely in need of a few additions. We’re probably more in need of an interior like a big to help with our rotations especially at the five with Katie and Deborah. Chloe is playing more of a four right now and that’s where she performs at her best.”
“So, I think we need one more big, long mobile body inside and I think that will benefit all three of them just to rotate and just to help with the workload and management of minutes and injuries.”
“Hopefully we’ll get a couple of more players in soon and hopefully we’ll be in a better place with rotations and options available within games.”
Certainly, only three games into the season there’s no need yet to hit any panic buttons. Fernandez knows that and also knows there’s a long way to go in the season as she looked back at the start of the season and what is to come in the future.
“It’s only been three games and one of them was Manchester away which was our first one and we won so that was always a good win to take. Then we’ve played Caledonia and London two very tough opponents where you just go in knowing that you have to give your best.”
“We didn’t go in with necessarily high expectations but we have some non-negotiables and that’s what we’re trying to keep at the core no matter who we’re playing against. It’s only been three games and we still have plenty of time to develop with the players that we have.”
“We can find some real identity and culture and hopefully as soon as we have some more additions we’ll be able to put them in and our puzzle will be completed with everyone we need.”
The one thing this Eagles side doesn’t lack is determination and spirit. If they get the right players in then with Newby at the helm and Fernandez leading on the court this will surely still be an exciting season for the team going forward.