BBL Championship
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 73 (22, 34, 57)(A Thomson 17, Martin 16, Smith 13)
Leicester Riders 85 (20, 42, 64)(21 Watson, Wright 16, Bernardini 11)
Leicester Riders now control their BBL Championship destiny after avenging BBL Cup Final defeat with an 85-73 success at the home of the champions, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle on Friday.
The teams went into their first league meeting of the season separated by 10 points, but each having lost just once – with Eagles overpowering Riders to win the BBL Cup just two weeks ago.
The opening exchanges pointed to another thrilling heavyweight clash in front of a sold-out crowd at Sport Central.
But when Riders closed the first half on a 16-3 tear, they assumed complete control and appeared to knock Newcastle off their stride.
Fab Flournoy’s men had recovered from a bigger deficit during their Cup Final triumph, but on this night could not conjure a response as Riders dictated the tempo.
Neil Watson led Riders to victory with 21 points and nine assists while TrayVonn Wright added 16 points and Drew Sullivan had nine points and 10 boards.
Andy Thomson was Eagles’ high man with 17 points, but the champions were far from their best, suffering a second defeat in as many weeks, having been unbeaten since April before that.