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The Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles went into Saturday night’s British Basketball League match-up at Leicester Riders with renewed hope and confidence after their midweek European North Basketball League win over Basket Brno.

That 87 – 81 point win had been achieved with good team basketball and a determination to show that this Eagles side belonged in the European competition.

Highlights of Eagles at Riders:


It was also hoped that it was a turning point for their results and performance in the domestic league season. By the end of the 40 minutes down in Leicester it was far from it with hopes dashed and confidence once again ripped to shreds.

Forward Josh Ward-Hibbert had spoken after the European win and mentioned that he thought his teammates would enjoy the intense rivalry of the Leicester game and that as a unit they were together in the locker room, through practice and into games.

For almost twenty minutes in the first half those words rang true particular after the Eagles flying start in the first period. But a disastrous third quarter and an inability to bounce back in the final ten minutes dashed any hopes of a league revival.

By the end of what was ultimately a one-sided contest Leicester had ridden hard over the Eagles and clipped their wings severely as Head Coach Marc Steutel’s men went down to another damaging defeat.

Newcastle have now played more than 25% of their regular season fixtures and stand with a 3-win 7 loss record. They are also crucially 2 – 1 down in the head-to-head series against one of their fiercest rivals.

It is not the start nor the continuance that Steutel and the Newcastle back office was expecting when they put together what appeared to be a very stacked and potent roster. Injuries have certainly played a part as has a brutal schedule but unfortunately at the moment the bad is outweighing the good.

Eagles with Rickey McGill and Jordan Johnson starting brightly and Tahj Green full of energy actually made a great start to the game and were 27 points to 17 up at one stage in the first quarter.

Jordan Johnson top-scored for our Eagles on 25 points with 3 rebounds and 5 assists. (Photo: Reece Alderson)

But Leicester’s superior depth on their roster with all ten players being able to come on and contribute was one of the differences. A 7 – 0 run all scored by their bench brought them back to within three by the end of the first quarter.

They then turned that around in the second to lead 53 – 50 with neither defence seemingly able to stop the other’s offence. Newcastle though were still in the contest as the teams came out for the third and that’s when it all fell apart.

Leicester found their defensive mojo finally shutting down the Eagles potent offence whilst continuing to score at will at the other end. A massive 36 – 19 ten-minute period turned the game completely in the home side’s favour with Steutel and his team unable to stem the tide.

It made the final ten minutes almost academic as Leicester in the end strolled to a comfortable victory to boost their own league position whilst relegating Newcastle to another disappointing night.

Two stats perhaps stood out more than most. Leicester’s bench scored 51 points to Newcastle’s 15 and in the paint their inside dominance was also shown with a 42 – 24 point difference with all ten Riders’ players getting on the scoresheet.

Newcastle will point to the absence of Larry Austin Jr. through injury and the continued absence of Scott Spencer as contributing factors and with some justification. But the end analysis is that they simply have to find a way to make this talented roster competitive.

The Eagles fly away in ENBL action on Tuesday at Valmiera Glass VIA before returning home to face Manchester for the first time this season on Friday night at the Vertu Motors Arena.

Tickets are available for the home game against the Giants at the box office.