A Spectacle For Spectators
Teesside Lions hosted a Weekend Tournament to celebrate a return to live basketball at Eston Leisure Centre following a 15 month absence due to Covid Lockdown.
Basketball fans from as far as York, Newcastle and even the USA enjoyed six high quality games with the Lions joined by St Mirren from Scotland, local rivals Tees Valley Mohawks and eventual Champions Newcastle University.
National Basketball League (NBL) Division One outfit Newcastle were outstanding. The team boast a core of talented American players who were a pleasure to watch with sleek ball movement, athleticism and pin-point accuracy with their perimeter shooting.
Newcastle guard Brandon Federici top scored with 47pts to claim the Tournament MVP. He had good support from Ronald Blain and Martin Gayle who were also in terrific form.
There was an evident chasm between Newcastle and the other three teams who hadn’t played for 15 months. St Mirren were coached well by Matt Giroux and versatile big Chris Cleary was one of the players of the tournament with skilful finishing inside and great 3-point shooting.
Mohawks finished as runners up as they edged St Mirren and Lions on Day 1 but were brought back down to earth with a bump when they encountered Newcastle.
Lions faced Newcastle first and were simply not ready and signs of rust and a lack of cohesion were clearly visible. The team improved considerably over the following games to beat St Mirren on Day 2 and rescue some pride in front of the Lions fans.
It took three games for new signings Matt Hughes and Jack Wilson to show their value as Hughes hit 32pts and Wilson added 21pts against St Mirren following a discombobulated performance in the first two games.
Teesside chairman James Thomson was pleased to see the fans back at Eston, stating:
“Pre-Season is about testing ourselves and identifying where we need to improve. It’s also about entertaining basketball fans, and the opportunity to invite high level teams such as Newcastle is something we are keen to do, regardless of the potential result.
“Obviously we want to do well, and this event was probably a couple of weeks too soon for us as we are still assembling the squad.
“The important aspect, in addition to the team improving over the tournament, was seeing so many fans back at live basketball. The feedback was positive, and everyone enjoyed a safe and entertaining event.”
Teesside Lions are back in action this Sunday when they welcome another Division One side Derby Trailblazers. Arguably stronger than Newcastle this will be another tough test for Coach Steutel and the Lions and yet again a great chance for basketball fans to enjoy watching an elite level team.
Teesside Lions v Derby Trailblazers
Sunday 12th September 2pm Tip
– Doors open 1pm with music, snacks and entertainment.
– Spectators must be seated 30mins prior to tip
– Adult £6.50
– U18 & OAP £4.50
– Family £16 (2 adults & 2 u18)
Tickets must be purchased in advance to allow the club to cater for the attendance in accordance with venue & government covid guidelines.