It was a first defeat of the season for Newcastle Eagles on Friday night after a double-winning effort last weekend. They battled all the way with fierce rivals Glasgow Rocks before succumbing 71-73 in overtime.
It meant the Rocks gained revenge off the Eagles following Newcastle’s 90-86 win in Glasgow last Sunday. The result will be a blow to Coach Ian MacLeod and his team but it is far from damaging in what is a tough BBL Cup North Group as the Eagles already have two wins recorded.
Eagles were boosted by the first appearances of the regular season from 6’10” Frenchman Sade Aded Hussein and USA/Italian guard Nick Schlitzer who both can be satisfied with their first efforts in Eagles colours albeit in a losing cause.
Veteran Eagles forward Darius Defoe had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds but admitted at the end of the game it was ultimately a difficult and disappointing night for him and his colleagues.
“It’s disappointing to lose at home in front of our own fans but we just have to take it on board and try to put it right for the next game. Losing Mike (Morsell) through injury in the game and with John (Mitchell) fouling out it made it really tough going into overtime.”
“But we can’t use that as an excuse as we had chances and should have beaten them. I hope Mike is ok and not too badly hurt but whatever we have to move on and get ready for next Friday when we go to Leicester.”
Defoe was right in his summing up. The Eagles had plenty of chances which they would normally convert and at one point were up by double-digits. But the Rocks stood firm and stayed with them and in point guard Greg Pryor and centre Maxime Djo Ebala had the game’s top two.
“I think we got a bit tired late on and didn’t have enough options especially in the extra time. We just have to come together watch the game on video, see where we went wrong and try to put that right in practice.”
One of the biggest battles on the night was between Pryor and Eagles on-court leader Rahmon Fletcher who was restricted by the Rock defence particularly as the game wore on.
“They did a good job on ‘Fletch’ but it’s not just Rocks. Whoever we play now is going to try and stop Fletch and affect our play. They will attack him aggressively so we have to be aware of that and look for others to step up.”
“I thought the new guys did well and it was good to have them on the team and available. It’ll help us in the future but it’s about getting back to work this week and working hard to get back to winning ways.”
With the new format in the BBL Cup this season a defeat in a group game does not mean that a team is out of the competition. But the Eagles will not want to get into a habit and drop any further games in their quest to finish in the top two of their group.
That is their aim as that would guarantee them a home draw at the quarter-final stage and that’s their first target of the season and an objective they are very much looking to fulfil.