International basketball star turned big-screen hero Ian Whyte insists Newcastle is perfectly placed to host world class hoops.
More than 1,000 tickets have already been sold for next month’s EuroBasket 2021 qualifier between Great Britain and Germany at the Eagles Community Arena.
And Whyte, who won 80 caps for his country before starring in Star Wars, Game Of Thrones, Alien vs Predator and more, is counting down the days to the February 24 clash.
“I’ve been part of a capacity crowd at the ECA a few times now and the atmosphere is fantastic,” said the former Newcastle Eagles favourite.
“I can only imagine what it’s like to play in front of a full house.
“It’s fun, friendly and can get very, very noisy. The fans are close enough to the action to make their presence felt and the players must love it.
“It’s such a professional environment and I’m not surprised that FIBA and British Basketball have given the green light for a senior international match at the ECA.
“I can’t think many better places for GB to take on Germany and as a venue it ticks all of the boxes.”
Tickets for the fixture between Nate Reinking’s squad, ranked 41 in the world, and top-20 side Germany went on sale last weekend.
And within 72 hours more than 1,000 had been sold as the latest world class sporting event to take place on Tyneside captured the imagination of fans across the UK.
“Newcastle has done so much for basketball in this country during the last 15 years and this is a great opportunity to showcase the city’s association with the sport,” added Whyte.
“The ECA is a year old now and players and fans visiting it for the first time in February will be very impressed.
“As a player you love a loud arena and you love to feel the crowd. That’s what you get at the ECA.
“To see a country of Germany’s calibre line up in Newcastle will be something special.”
Great Britain head into the ECA clash on the back of a record-breaking seven-game winning streak.
For the first time in their 72-year history, the senior men’s team ended the calendar year unbeaten with a perfect 6-0 record.
And Reinking’s roster will be hoping to bag an eighth straight victory in Montenegro three days before hosting the Germans on Tyneside.
“It’s been great to see so many people getting behind Nate and the guys in such a short space of time,” said Newcastle Eagles’ Managing Director Paul Blake.
“Everyone involved with the ECA is excited to host such a significant fixture on the road to EuroBasket 2021 and it’s already captured the imagination of the North East’s basketball community.”
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