BBL Cup, Semi-Final (First Leg)
Sheffield Sharks 75 (22,31,51) (Payne 18, Holmes 15, Lewis 15)
Newcastle Eagles 77 (18,34,58) (Defoe 18, Martin 18, Fletcher 13)
AND THE CORRECT SCORERS WERE – Scott Martin 19, Darius Defoe 18, Andre Jones 13, Rahmon Fletcher 12 plus Andy Thomson 5, Charles Smith 4, Fab Flournoy 4 and Drew Lasker 2
It’s advantage to the Esh Group Eagles Newcastle as they look to knock Sheffield Sharks out of the BBL Cup semi-finals for the second year in a row, after a 75-77 first leg win against their Steel City rivals at the English Institute of Sport.
Darius Defoe and Scott Martin scored 18 points each, missing only five shots between them all night, to settle this game between two clubs with illustrious BBL Cup records.
After the Sharks – who have won the Cup twice in the last five years – held a narrow advantage in the early stages, the Eagles took control from the start of the second stanza as they scored the first eight points, including four for Andre Jones, to lead 22-26 while Sheffield did not register for five minutes.
Defoe and Martin gave Newcastle their biggest lead of the game in the third quarter, as they broke a tie at 37 with four points each in a burst of eight unanswered, and they pushed that lead to its peak at 41-50 when Martin added a three-pointer with five minutes to play in the third.
But the game finished with a rollercoaster fourth quarter. Firstly, Allen Payne scored six points in an early 9-0 run that brought the Sharks all the way back to tie the game at 60. And that run proved decisive in keeping the game close going into the second leg as, despite Sheffield establishing a four point lead, a late 11-2 run, in which Rahmon Fletcher hit seven points, settled the first leg in favour of the visitors.