College trio strengthens Eagles side

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Former Basketball Academy student Themba Yabantu returns to Eagles for his third BBL season

Newcastle Eagles have confirmed their 2020-21 line-up with three talented Gateshead College players making the British Basketball League (BBL) side.

New signing Sean Murphy played under Eagles head coach Ian MacLeod when he was at Gateshead College in 2016 and will now feature for Eagles Team Newcastle in NBL Division 1.

Two of the rising local stars return to the roster for this coming season. Former student Themba Yabantu returns for his third BBL season and will also play for Team Newcastle in the NBL Division 1.

Sauveur Kande begins his second season with the senior side and will combine those duties with also being part of the Eagles EABL U19 and NBL U23 set-up.

The three players have all been through the college’s Basketball Academy programme and MacLeod is happy to add Sauveur and the two former students to his squad in the hope that being around senior professionals can help the local talent to grow and progress.

“Themba is in his 3rd season now and is showing positive signs regarding his development”, he said.

“It is a testimony to our performance pathway that he continues to receive exposure to a pro-environment while playing the bulk of his game time with our NBL1 nursery team Team Newcastle.

“He will continue to be a main part of coach Mark Elderkin’s side to aid his development.”

Themba appeared in six Eagles games last season the highlight of which was his eight points, four rebounds and three assists in 19 minutes against Manchester Giants at home in a 131–63 win.

Small forward Sauveur appeared four times in an Eagles game last season as well as earning a call-up to the Basketball England U18 squad and forced his way onto the Eagles roster last term with some fine performances in pre-season.

“It is important we do not rush Sauveur in his development. At 18 there are a lot more steps for him to take before becoming a full-time pro,” said MacLeod.

“He has worked hard this summer and I look forward to him playing a key role in our u19 and u23 squads while with us he will fill the ‘development player’ role and continue to learn from the senior players.”

The rookie being called-up to the senior squad is Sean Murphy a 6’4” wing player that MacLeod knows well.

“Sean will play with our feeder team ‘Team Newcastle’ in NBL1 and will also be part of our squad. Sean played in our u23 team last year and performed admirably”, added the BBL team’s head coach.

“I worked with Sean for three years at Gateshead College’s Basketball Academy – along with Themba – and he is a real competitor that I have a lot of belief in.

“He can score at all three levels, this is a big opportunity for him. I won’t put too much pressure on him as he needs time to develop but NBL1 should see him gain the bulk of his playing experience.”

Wed Oct 20 2021