The Newcastle Knights Basketball Club made their NBL Division 1 debut on 16 September with a victory against the Bradford Dragons. Last weekend, Team Newcastle faced its biggest challenge thus far this season facing the mighty Northumbria, the defending league champions. Despite a spirited effort by the Division 1 newcomers, Team Newcastle fell to Northumbria 66-82 on 23 September.
The Knights threw the first punch in the game, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead in the first few minutes. This would be the only lead of the game for Team Newcastle as Northumbria quickly caught up and took an 8-6 lead with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter.
For the remainder of the first half, Newcastle hung around and even knotted the score at one point in the second quarter. The second half was a different story as Northumbria utilised aggressive defence and a balanced offensive attack from its two-star players — inside the key and behind the three-point line — to overcome Newcastle and eventually run away with the game.
Team Northumbria used their size and physicality to overpower Newcastle in the second half. The Knights were no match for the strong, physical post player from Northumbria, who gained position in the lane with ease and couldn’t miss from inside the paint. In addition, the inside presence from Northumbria dominated the offensive boards. They muscled their way through Newcastle defenders for a number of second-chance baskets and were a force to be reckoned with from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
The Knights were no match for the strong, physical post player from Northumbria, who gained position in the lane with ease and couldn’t miss from inside the paint.
Newcastle newcomer, Greek guard Thanasis Iokeimidis, provided a positive spark for the Knights during the match. His court vision and ability to read the defence led to double-figure points and steered the Knights on a run in the final minutes of the game. Despite Iokeimidis’ efforts, the score was too far out of reach and the run wasn’t enough to catch up to the hosts, who led by as much as 17.
Following the loss to Northi, Team Newcastle looked to bounce back against a scrappy Reading Rockets squad on Sunday, 8 October. Slow starts in the first and third quarters ended up being the difference maker for the Knights and led to a final score of 68-72. Reading maintained a double-figure lead throughout the second half before Team Newcastle made a dramatic comeback that, unfortunately, fell just short.
As in the game against Northumbria, the Knights were plagued by offensive rebounding troubles and were unable to penetrate the Rockets’ stifling defence for the majority of the game. Reading also used a strong transition game to catch Newcastle off guard and score quick points on the fast break.
American imports Joey Bennett and Patrick Wrencher provided strong contributions — both tallied double-figure points and played big minutes for Team Newcastle. Bennett caught fire in the first half, coming off the bench and scoring more than 20 points in a short amount of time including a huge breakaway dunk to swing the momentum in the Knights’ favour. Veteran guard Mark Elderkin has run the show for Newcastle thus far this season directing traffic, creating scoring opportunities and making hustle plays throughout every match.
American imports Joey Bennett and Patrick Wrencher provided strong contributions — both tallied double-figure points and played big minutes for Team Newcastle.
Moving forward, the Knights must utilise their speed and movement on offence to nullify physical defences and create openings and scoring opportunities inside the key.
Although the Knights have not quite found their footing in NBL Division 1quite yet, the Newcastle University BUCS squad got off to a hot start against a formidable Worcester lineup. After a long drive south, the Knights stretched their legs and pushed the pace — they found points in the fast break throughout the entire game. Newcastle returners Romonn Nelson, Jack Beresford and Alei Wol led the Knights’ break, with Nelson utilising his speed off the dribble to put Worcester on their heels. BUCS newcomers Zach Leal and Kingsley Pinda posed strong threats to the Worcester defenders and posted big numbers for Team Newcastle.
Aside from the fast break, Team Newcastle found luck playing small ball — with smaller players at the centre position, the Knights switched every screen on defence and used their speed to score on the home team.
The Newcastle BUCS squad looks to go 2-0 on the season with an upcoming away game against Manchester Met on Wednesday. The NBL continues their season with a double-header here in Newcastle, Saturday against Northumbria and Sunday against the Nottingham Hoods.