Newcastle Eagles became the first team to book their place in the BBL Championship Play-off Final, with their 93-71 victory over Airwaves Plymouth Raiders at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on Saturday.
It was a tentative start to the game, with both team scoreless for the best part of the first two minutes. Player/coach Fab Flournoy broke the deadlock, netting for Newcastle and the Eagles led 7-5 early doors. Plymouth went on an 11-3 tear with Noel, Moore, Martin and Lasker sharing the load – Charles Smith scored Newcastle’s only points in that tear.
An Andrew Bridge three pointer edged Eagles closer, before a Smith bucket and two free throws from Reginald Jackson saw Eagles take the lead at 17-16 at the end of the first quarter.
Eagles kept their momentum going in the second quarter and took the first double digit lead of the game at 33-23 with five minutes to go It was part of a 16-4 Eagles run, which saw them take a 39-24 lead.
Andrew Bridge was Newcastle’s stand-out scorer in the first half, with 16 personal points, as they took a 46-30 lead into the second half.
In the third quarter, the teams traded baskets early on. With the score at 50-37 Newcastle went on an 8-0 run with Jackson scoring half of Eagles’ point in that tear. Plymouth rallied briefly, bagging six of the next nine points, but still trailed 61-43. A buzzer-beating three pointer from Gerald Robinson cut the deficit still further to 66-48 by the end of the quarter.
Plymouth reduced the arrears to 14 points in the final stanza, but Newcastle’s Trey Moore stepped up and scored seven points in quick succession to extend Eagles lead to 82-61. There was no way back for Plymouth and the game ended 93-71 to Newcastle.
Trey Moore was the game‘s top scorer with 25 points, as the game lived up to its seeding as BBL Champions winners booked their place in Sunday’s Final.