Newcastle new boy Bryan Defares has revealed the real reason behind his big move to the Eagles… The chance to watch Premiership football at St James’s Park! The Dutch guard was born and raised in Amsterdam and is a self-confessed Ajax nut.
But like a lot of kids growing up in Holland he was just as keen to keep an eye on what was happening in England’s top flight. And Defares recalls the Champions League exploits of Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle United with fondness.
‘I have to admit I didn’t know a lot about Newcastle Eagles when the call came through telling me the club was interested,’ he said. ‘I know a couple of players in the BBL and they told me that Fab and the boys were far and away the best in the league.’
‘And I am aware that basketball’s profile is getting bigger over here with clubs looking at Europe and the 2012 Olympics coming up. But even though I didn’t know that much about the Eagles I know all about Newcastle because of the football.’
‘I’m a big Ajax fan and love my football. I remember United in the Champions League playing PSV and they played a couple of Dutch clubs in the Uefa Cup. The fans love their sport in this city and I thought that if only a few of them watched the basketball club then it could be a great place to live and work.”
Defares landed in Newcastle after spells in the Greek and Spanish leagues and the playmaker’s reputation is well known. But for a while last week it looked like he would never arrive at his final destination as the weather conspired to hand him the journey from hell.
‘I set off from America some time last week – it seems so long ago now – and had a couple of internal flights before I went to Paris,’ he added. ‘From there I was supposed to head over to Newcastle but the weather was too bad and I ended up in Scotland!’
‘The buses were too full coming down from Edinburgh to Newcastle and I had a lot of kit so they just couldn’t squeeze me on. I ended up getting a taxi and finally arriving on Thursday night – almost two days after setting off.’
Defares did not receive his work permit in time to make a home court debut against the Scottish Rocks on Friday night. And the guard was expected to sit out last night’s clash at Worcester with the necessary paperwork due to be completed tomorrow.
That would see Defares make his debut at home against Leicester on Friday and have a week of practice under his belt before the 2008 BBL Cup final in Birmingham a week today.
‘I’ve never won trophies as a player and I’ve joined a team synonymous with silverware,’ he added. ‘I see this move as a major step forward in my career and I am already dreaming of winning things with the Eagles. Maybe the Cup final will come too soon but looking at the way the guys played on Friday I can see why we’re favourites.’
‘I just want to get into the team as soon as possible and play whatever role I can. I’m here to be a team player and to add a few medals if possible.’
Look out for next Sunday’s Eagle Eye with a full preview of the 2008 BBL Cup final at Birmingham’s NIA, featuring Newcastle and Milton Keynes Lions.