Jordan Johnson admits he’s riding the rollercoaster of hoops emotions to keep Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles’ European dream alive.
US guard Johnson was the driving force behind one of the greatest wins in franchise history as Newcastle sentenced RSW Liege Basket to a shock 100-92 defeat on Tyneside.
“I enjoyed it a lot out there,” said the former Glasgow favourite. “There were a lot of variables that weren’t in our favour so that made it even more pleasing to get the win.
“It was a fun game to play in but then basketball should be fun. It’s why we do it. It’s what makes us want to do this. Maybe I didn’t feel that way in Friday’s game against the Riders.
“But five days can make a big difference and I’ve gone from disappointment to feeling really positive. That’s basketball.”
Johnson now sits joint second in the European North Basketball League (ENBL) all-time list for assists in a single game after adding 13 scoring passes to his game high 28 points.
The irrepressible all-rounder was ably supported by backcourt buddy Rickey McGill who added 11 assists to his 26 points.
And on a night when Larry Austin Jr became the latest Eagle to be struck down by the bug ripping through Newcastle’s roster, both McGill and Johnson played all 40 minutes of a midweek thriller.
“I’ve played a full game a few times in my career but that was the first time this season,” added Johnson. “At the end I was running on fumes!
“But it was such good fun and such a great game that I wanted to stay out there.
“As a team we showed up and stepped up. Some of the younger guys came in and played big time minutes for us against a very strong team. That’s what we needed from them.”
Relaxed rules on roster movement in the ENBL meant head coach Marc Steutel was able to promote three rising stars to his injury-ravaged bench.
University prospects Justin Hopkins, Theo Riley and Emmanuel Kanwei bolstered a Newcastle team down to the bare bones even before Austin Jr’s late withdrawal.
And it was Hopkins who stole the show as the all-action forward bagged six points, five boards and a steal on debut.
Johnson and McGill, meanwhile, bossed a backcourt battle against the powerful Belgians and Alex Dampier’s side had no answer to the hosts’ run and gun energy.
“There was a big contrast in styles,” agreed Johnson. “It was all about holding our ground and limiting their players to one shot.
“The plan was to grab the rebound and run — just play smart using the tools we had.
“Next week’s game is huge now. We need that win. We needed the Liege win, we need the one after that and the one after that.”
Newcastle head to Estonia this week where another victory will move Steutel’s men to within touching distance of the ENBL playoffs.
The Eagles’ 3-2 record has the Tynesiders sitting just outside the top four in Group B with two regular season games remaining.
Wednesday’s clash at Keila Coolbet precedes the rearranged homecourt fixture against ENEA Stelmat Zastal Zielona Gora on February 13.
The top four teams in each group progress to the playoffs with the quarter-final winners contesting April’s Final Fours.
Fans can watch this Wednesday’s away game live on our website.