Ex-Eagles coach has dig at club’s selection policy
FORMER Newcastle Eagles coach Tony Garbelotto has questioned the policy of favouring foreign stars above domestic talent ahead of Friday’s return trip to Tyneside.
The man responsible for bringing Fabulous Flournoy to the North East was confirmed as British Basketball’s senior men’s coach last week.
And Garbelotto – who will combine the role with his job as Glasgow Rocks’ playcaller – has taken a swipe at the trophy-laden Tynesiders who opened their BBL account with a record-breaking 148-60 win against Leeds Force on Friday night.
The Londoner said: “I am slightly disappointed that some teams have recruited very heavily away from pure British players and we’re not giving younger players the opportunity to break through.
“But I can only be a voice and can only try to influence owners, general managers and coaches to go down that road.
“The younger players have a role in that and so they have to make a decision if they want to come back.
“The BBL is a very competitive league with the way it’s put together now so I will say that I’m very disappointed that a younger player like Kofi Josephs chooses a lower league abroad.
“We understand why they are trying to make that choice. But I hope that the BBL can play a part in the future of British basketball at international level and I hope that some coaches start giving younger players the chance to play.”
Garbelotto’s words may well be designed to distract Newcastle’s new-look roster from the job in hand when the Rocks roll into town later this week.
But the ex-Eagles playcaller has a point after his former club failed to add a single British star to their line-up in the close-season.
Friday’s demolition of hapless Leeds suggests it was the right move from the organisation’s point of view – even if it does little to nurture the next generation.
In Newcastle’s defence the Eagles have spent 20 years blooding British players and providing them with a platform to progress.
Darius Defoe is a prime example of a domestic talent picked up as a virtual unknown by Flournoy and set on the road to a successful 14-year career in the BBL.
And even as recently as last season Newcastle boasted a strong contingent of British stars – including Joe Hart who linked up with Garbelotto at the Rocks earlier this month.
But Flournoy is a demanding taskmaster and he was privately disappointed at a lack of progress during the 2016/17 campaign - with the club’s homegrown contingent a constant source of frustration.
And in a break with tradition the Eagles felt they were forced to target North American and European players to return the organisation to the BBL summit.
Garbelotto understands his former club’s desire to remain the dominant force in domestic hoops and added: “The rules are constituted how they are constituted. Newcastle are not doing anything wrong.
“I can’t do anything about that but all I will say is that my Rocks team is made up of three import players and everyone else is British – bar Boris (Matrakov) who is half-Bulgarian and half-Scottish. “I’ll stand and fall by that decision.” Newcastle fans will get an early opportunity to see just how Garbelotto’s new-look Rocks adjust to the BBL when the Glasgow club visit Sport Central on Friday.
The two clubs met in pre-season – and again during last month’s All-Stars event at London’s O2 Arena – but the Eagles’ first competitive homecourt clash of the season will offer a more realistic insight into where both sides are heading in 2017.
Head coach Fab Flournoy with Darius Defoe who has forged a long successful career in the BBL