Date Time League Season
January 12, 2024 7:30 pm Men's Trophy 2023-24

Rickey McGill has seen a steely new side to Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles as the embattled men in black fight for their Trophy future.

The seven-times winners travel to Bristol Flyers tonight without four senior pros and requiring victory to keep their Final Fours hopes alive.

But McGill has seen enough in his under-pressure team-mates to believe Newcastle can triumph in adversity.

“It’s times like this when you learn who’s tough and who’s not,” said the US star.

“We’re down four guys and so everyone else has got to show what they’re about.

“Honestly it’s a case of ‘next man up’ right now. We have guys down and we’re relying on eight players to do everything but it’s just that ‘next man’ mentality.

“When it’s their time everybody has to step up and contribute. We saw that against Manchester last week and we’re ready to do it all again down at Bristol.”

The Flyers bullied the Eagles into submission at the Vertu Motors Arena last month and Andreas Kapoulas will demand another aggressive display tonight.

With so many absentees Newcastle head coach Marc Steutel can ill afford ill-discipline on the road and McGill accepts the visitors will have to keep their wits about them.

“Since we came to terms with the fact that we’d only have eight guys this month we’ve started to really focus on the fouls,” he added.

“I picked up two early fouls against London last week and when you’re playing with such a short rotation that really hurts the rest of the guys.

“We were better at managing the game against Manchester but we need to know when to give a foul and when not to give a foul.”

Offence may well be the best form of defence for the Eagles with McGill, Jordan Johnson and Larry Austin Jr capable of outscoring any team.

That the three in-form guards are fit and raring to go is the one positive for Steutel during a challenging period.

And the Eagles must capitalise on the strengths of their do-it-all back court trio.

“At the beginning of the season the three of us played some good basketball together but we’re all playing at our best at the moment,” added McGill.

“We need to keep feeding each other, working for each other and finding the open team-mate.”

McGill is counting the days until Will Neighbour, Josh Ward-Hibbert, Devin Whitfield and Scott Spencer return to the fray.

And he admitted it’s been a painful process watching his friends and colleagues sidelined for the last few weeks.

“It is frustrating to see those guys down,” he added. “I don’t like to see anybody injured but especially my team-mates.

“We know what those guys can bring to the table and it’s just heartbreaking that they’re not out there battling with us.

“But they’re still here every day, getting in early, getting to work and staying part of the group.

“We’re a close group and whether guys are fit or not everyone turns up to practice and plays their part in whatever way they can.

“We have to look at the positives and it will be like a whole new team next month.

“We really haven’t had a full team on court all season so when that happens we’ll be able to show the rest of the league just how scary we are.”