Bunten doubles down on homegrown talent

Newcastle Eagles have welcomed back two of North East basketball’s most familiar faces as head coach Chris Bunten continues to deepen a developing roster.

Experienced guard Ruth Thornley is back for a second season in her second spell with the franchise after kickstarting her top-flight career in 2019 and Academy product Orieoma Chukwu-Etu returns to the fold as Newcastle’s seventh British signing of the summer.

“Ruth has bags of experience and can always shoot a three,” explained a delighted Bunten. “She’s a popular figure and one of the most vocal players I’ve ever worked with.

“I love coaching her and I was so pleased that she made herself available again this time last year.

“Ruth has a proud history with Team Northumbria and England and it makes sense for her to be in and around the Eagles roster for as long as she can commit.

“She knows that it’s going to be a battle for court time this season but that’s going to be the case for everyone. And Ruth has never been the type of player to shirk a challenge.”

Thornley – formerly Ruth Davison – captained England at Under 18 level and the Gosforth playmaker represented Great Britain Under 20s and Bunten believes he can bring out the best in a proven game changer still feeling her way back into WBBL competition.

Like Thornley, Chukwu-Etu faces a battle for court time alongside five fellow Brits and a raft of new and returning imports.

But Bunten added, “Ori proved time and time again last season that she has lots to offer the Eagles. She’s an outstanding defender and opposition teams omit her from their scouting report at their peril.

“Ori has the confidence to hit her shot when it matters and is a real example of what the Eagles Academy is all about.”

Bunten’s available players practiced at the Eagles Community Arena last night with more new faces expected to bolster the club’s ranks later this week.