Raiders star guard Jeremy Bell has made a habit of torching his former club and the guard certainly didnt disappoint last Friday as he racked up 31 points against Cheshire Jets including three of four from long-range. He also managed to dish out five assists and did the hard work on the glass with six rebounds as his team picked up another precious victory in their pursuit of the BBL Championship. This is the fourth time the talented playmaker has made the starting five.
Brought back to Yorkshire last month, Ryan Patton has picked up where he left off with some typically influential performances for his team and none more so than his effort against Prestige Homes MK Lions. The versatile guard was on fire and finished with 28 points after making four of five from inside and sinking no fewer than six triples from downtown. Patton also weighed in with four assists, four rebounds and two steals to underline why Sharks chose to acquire his services once again.
Theres just no stopping our season leader as he extends his lead at the top of the most appearances table by becoming the first BBL player to move into double digits. His tenth appearance in our line-up comes courtesy of a typically influential contribution in the Riders success at Kelvin Hall against the Rocks. Hardy produced the best performance of the weekend in the BBL with a performance valuation score of 34 after an all-action double-double of 22 points and 14 rebounds in addition to three steals, two blocked shots and two assists.
Its back to back appearances for Sharks forward Mike Tuck after he produced another impressive display last weekend against the Lions. With his team-mate Ryan Patton doing the business in the backcourt, Tuck did what was necessary in the paint with a great rebounding performance which helped him claim a double-double of 15 points and 15 rebounds. Whilst his finishing at the hoop wasnt as good as it usually is, he also lit it up from the perimeter with three of four from long-range helping him book his spot once again in our line-up.
Take your pick from two blistering double-double performances last weekend by the in-form centre who was sensational against both Cheshire Jets in the BBL Championship and Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Trophy Final. Both respective displays were good enough to be in our top five but the slightly better display was against the Jets which surpassed his double-double against the Eagles. Williams not only had 20 points and 14 rebounds but he also dished up five assists for his team in what has been another very impressive season for the big man.
Off The Bench Colin OReilly (Cheshire Jets), Myles Hesson (Mersey Tigers), Joe Chapman (Newcastle Eagles|Matt Schneck (Cheshire Jets), Demarius Bolds (Prestige Homes MK Lions)
The BBL Trophy Final is the goal. The Emirates Arena is the destination. And four teams are locked in a battle this weekend to get there. Plymouth Raiders hold the advantage over Worcester Wolves as they take an 18-point lead into tonight's second leg, which can be seen live on BBC Sport. The Wolves need to win the leg by 19 points to advance to the final with the Raiders looking to end a five-year wait since their last final in 2012. Daniel Huffor(193-G/F-87, college: Newberry) has ca... [read more]
The BBL Trophy Final is the goal. The Emirates Arena is the destination. And four teams are locked in a battle this weekend to get there.
Plymouth Raiders hold the advantage over Worcester Wolves as they take an 18-point lead into tonight's second leg, which can be seen live on BBC Sport.
The Wolves need to win the leg by 19 points to advance to the final with the Raiders looking to end a five-year wait since their last final in 2012.
Daniel Huffor (193-G/F-87, college: Newberry) has called for his side to remain calm and stick to their game-plan rather than panic about the first-leg deficit.
"We know Plymouth will be a great test so we need to come in very focused and prepared with very little margin of error in the game," he said.
"We can't come in thinking we are down 18 and need home run plays right away. Our defence is key - if we can limit them and get easy transition points, we will have a chance.
"We just need to play our game-plan and see where we are in the fourth quarter and go from there."
Meanwhile, Leicester Riders and Cheshire Phoenix go head-to-head in a back-to-back with the first leg at the Leicester Sports Arena on Saturday.
The Riders have won both league meetings so far, but Phoenix have since strengthened and also have two former Leicester players amongst their ranks.
"We know it's going to be a competitive weekend with the chance of getting to final, which is always exciting," said Riders head coach, Rob Paternostro.
"They are an explosive team and defensively, we are going to have to be really solid."
There are also four league games taking place this weekend.
Bristol Flyers host London Lions on Saturday with the head-to-head on the line when they meet, while two teams in desperate need of a win clash as Manchester Giants welcome Leeds Force.
Also, Plymouth are back in action with a trip to Scotland to take on Glasgow Rocks on Sunday with Surrey Scorchers playing at home to Worcester tomorrow having seen Will Neighbour depart to New Zealand during the week.
All BBL games are available to watch LIVE over at livebasketball.tv via subscription.
From Benfield Schoolboy attending a Hoops for Health session to Assistant Coach to the Esh Group Eagles Newcastle Senior Team and England Under 18's Assistant Coach too, quite a journey for Coach Ian Macleod . A young man that shows that The Newcastle Eagles Basketball Club is not all about success on the court and allowing young ballers to follow their dreams but also where careers can be carved out in other ways if the attitude and work ethic are right. Ian Macleod is a shining exampl... [read more]
From Benfield Schoolboy attending a Hoops for Health session to Assistant Coach to the Esh Group Eagles Newcastle Senior Team and England Under 18's Assistant Coach too, quite a journey for Coach Ian Macleod .
A young man that shows that The Newcastle Eagles Basketball Club is not all about success on the court and allowing young ballers to follow their dreams but also where careers can be carved out in other ways if the attitude and work ethic are right.
Ian Macleod is a shining example of what it means to be an integral part of the Eagles family and how if you have a dream and are prepared to work hard you can make it to the top. I caught up with him after The Eagles had beaten Bristol Flyers 108 - 94 at home last Friday.
We started by discussing the tough run Eagles have had since winning The BBL Cup back in January against Glasgow Rocks and how they've turned it around.
'No-one said we were going to be perfect this year. I think when you've had as much success as we've had previously one game dropped and there's a lot of knee-jerk reactions from ourselves as coaches, from players and from our fans.'
'But, it gave us a chance to re-focus, something to really key in on and we've made a lot of improvements since then and that's our key, to keep on improving. It gave us a bit of a wake-up call which sometimes you need and showed it's not about what happens in January it's about how you finish the season.'
After the bitter disappointment of defeat at Leicester in The BBL Trophy Quarter-Final meant it had been three losses in four games for Newcastle, a get together was called for with all players and coaching staff involved in a clear-the-air meeting.
'It wasn't a case of their being any problems or splits in the camp. It was about putting it all out there. Things like not having a fragmented approach with Coaches having one opinion and players another. It was just a chance to put everything on the table and a chance to air opinions for all.'
'It was a coming together so we can go forward together. We have some internal goal settings and targets we want to achieve and it was about every body having input to those targets so we could set them together.'
So what of Macleod's own role on The Eagles bench and how does he see it.
'I'm enjoying it very much. The first two years were really tough as I'd never really been an assistant coach before. I had to figure out how to be an assistant coach and then it's a whole new thing altogether being an assistant to a player/coach. It is a fragmented approach to how we do things.'
'I think just finding my voice a little more this season. It's a new team with new players and the chance for a fresh start this year is a good thing. But ultimately I don't want to be a career Assistant Coach.'
'I want to get back to having more input at the higher level and climb that ladder once again which Fab (Flournoy) knows. I don't hide that from Fab Things have changed a lot this year and I think its for the good.'
'I get a lot of respect from the guys but it goes both ways. They know that we don't just see them as tools to go out and play. When there are new guys coming in the dynamics change quite a bit but it's also about the character of what you bring in.'
'We have a good locker room Everyone in there is pulling in the same direction and that's also key to be able to have your roles and find your way to have your input in to the team.' Macleod was fulsome in his praise for Scott Martin's 41-point performance in a good win but he was also focused in on the way the rest of the guys recognised the hot hands and played around Martin to come up with a solid win. Now, he contemplates a two-week break.
'We have got the time off but all the players are different. Some need to rest up, some need to get healthy but also what's been great this year has been the chance to work with the guys individually.'
'To bring maybe one, two, three players in when needed and then work with them individually on what they need for their games. That's very refreshing and something we've been able to do a lot more this year, so that'll continue over the next two weeks.'
'Whatever each individual player needs or the team needs we have to make sure we cater for that and stay ready.'
We turned to his thoughts for the games and the rest of the season coming up.
'Everyone says that the league is the big one which it is but you also want to win your last game which is the play-offs too. It's a marathon it's not a quick sprint where you win a couple of games in a row and suddenly you're going to win the league.'
'It's about grinding it out especially when it gets to the February/March months. The weather's not great, it's dark, there's the long road trips. That's when you have to grind it out those ones too and not just that last game.'
Turning to International matters, Coach Macleod has recently been appointed Assistant Coach of the England Under 18s side, a tremendous honour for him and The Eagles Organisation.
'I've been an Assistant Coach with the England Under 15s programme for five years now. I was very privileged to work with an excellent coach in Jessie Sazant a Canadian who now runs a growing English Basketball programme in Kent.'
'But now I've been moved up to Under 18s with Alan Keane who is an extremely well-read interesting Coach who has a very interesting take on basketball and different philosophies which I'm looking forward to working with.'
'It's a little bit easier being an assistant coach in the England set-up. Your role's very clearly defined and you're not going to get a Player/Coach in Under 18s England level.'
'I'm looking forward to the challenge and hopefully also being involved with The Great Britain set-up in The European Championships as well. It's another step up the ladder and another step forward.'
'The plan is for success moving forward. It's a little bit different now with the Home Nations that are coming together to compete as GB but developing the English talent at this age group and moving it forward is the key responsibility and it's a very exciting opportunity for me.'
None of this of course would have been possible without Newcastle Eagles Basketball Club and The Eagles Community Foundation a fact Macleod is happy to acknowledge.
'The Club have been fantastic particularly in the last few years and in particular Deirdre Tozer-Hayes, Susan Hunter and Paul Blake who have been really supportive of me in helping my find the time and also being flexible with my time at The Eagles to help with National teams.'
'they've also helped me enormously in my new role at The Club as mentoring and Performance Officer which gives me a chance to work with younger coaches and really focus on our performance pathway.'
'Whilst it's great working out Internationally and with England you can't forget about home. In Newcastle and the North East we've come a long way but there are still massive improvements to make within The Eagles Community Foundation and National League set-up as well.'
'The target is to improve the standard of that and hopefully a by-product of that is The North East getting better and a by-product of that will be England getting better so it's all connected. The support of The ECF and Club has been invaluable to me so far and hopefully will continue.'
'Where Fab is but not on the court! What I've done is no different to what players do. You don't need to be the best player in the world to make it you need to be determined. My wife would definitely say I've committed some time to this.'
'I'm pretty much unseen by my family and friends from September to May. You have to live it, you have to be dedicated to it and I think on all fronts that's what I've done. I'm proud of the fact that I've come through from those days as a Benfield schoolboy to coaching the senior side.'
And proud is what Ian Andrew Macleod should be with his achievements, how far he's come and the fact that he's focused on going even further. One thing we didn't mention is that he's also Head Coach of Gateshead College Basketball Academy.
They play in the Academy Basketball League and his charges currently sit with a 10 - 1 league record showing once again that this is a young man that has the presence and ability to go far in his chosen sport.
The Itzehoe Eagles have announced the signing of big man Deji Adekunle (209-F/C-92, college: Kaiser). The 208cm center signed with the Eagles prior to the German Pro B transfer deadline in early January while still recovering from an injury. Adekunle comes from the Plymouth Raiders in the UK BBL, where he was let go in December after sustaining what was thought to be a serious groin injury. He has since made a timely recovery and will return to action in near future as Itzehoe prepares... [read more]
The 208cm center signed with the Eagles prior to the German Pro B transfer deadline in early January while still recovering from an injury.
Adekunle comes from the Plymouth Raiders in the UK BBL, where he was let go in December after sustaining what was thought to be a serious groin injury. He has since made a timely recovery and will return to action in near future as Itzehoe prepares for a playoff push.
Athletic and mobile, Adekunle will provide the Eagles with depth and an inside presence around the rim on both ends as the north German club looks to improve upon a 9-11 win-loss record with just two games remaining in the Pro B regular season.
'I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to help Itzehoe win any way that I can,' Adekunle, in his first professional season, said,
'It's a great situation to develop my game under a big-time coach (Patrick Elzie) and for a high-level club.'
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