Four games in only eight days. Three of those on the road. One in Europe in Latvia and another in the deep South West of England. It’s been a long hard week for the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles.
But ultimately it’s been a successful one as the last three of those games have seen Head Coach Marc Steutel’s men take three wins in a row for the first time this season, the last two being crucial victories in the British Basketball League.
Steutel talked after Friday night’s win about building blocks. Turning two wins in three and then possibly four and so on. This win against Plymouth will have given his players and himself a huge amount of confidence that they can do just that.
Especially as it’ll be the City Patriots next up for Newcastle at the Vertu Motors Arena in front of the Sky Sports cameras next Friday night. Another perhaps crucial factor in that equation is when the team and staff head home from Plymouth they will be at home all the way to that Friday game.
Tired travel weary bodies can be rested and recuperated as The Eagles may now, eventually, be finding their wings this season. Nothing though can be taken from granted and there’s still a lot of hard work to come but for now confidence and spirits will be high in the Newcastle camp.
Certainly after a disappointing loss at Leicester just over a week ago, Steutel’s promptings and play-calling has seen a great response from his players who in the last three games have really seemed to be on the same and right page.
Steutel knows that when his side get their defence right it can be the springboard to launch their potent offence and that was certainly the case throughout an excellent forty minutes for this Newcastle side down at Plymouth.
It also built brilliantly on the second half performance from Friday at home against Manchester Giants. Restricting a side to just 68 points on their own court, a court where seven days earlier Plymouth had defeated the supposedly unbeatable London Lions will almost certainly please Steutel the most.
Add in five players in double figures and for once one of them not being Jordan Johnson and it can be seen that this was indeed an excellent all-round performance from an emerging Newcastle side.
Leading scorer in the game was Rickey McGill who returned to The Pavilions to haunt his former team adding 9 assists and 5 rebounds to his top scoring effort. Josh Ward-Hibbert had 20 points for the second game running adding in 11 rebounds for an excellent double-double.
Devin Whitfield had a season high as an Eagle with 19 points and 8 rebounds with Tahj Green and Will Neighbour also netting double-figures. The Eagles were red-hot from beyond the arc hitting 14 of 25 three-point attempts for an excellent 56%.
Plymouth just couldn’t cope with Newcastle’s intensity at both ends of the court. The home side had led 10 – 6 early on but the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles hit them with 15 unanswered points from that stage to take a lead they only increased during the rest of the game.
That was especially true in the second half. Newcastle had gone to the locker rooms ten points up at the half and probably expected a Plymouth blitz. It never came as Steutel’s charges controlled the second twenty minutes to take a superb 27-point win on the road.