Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 83 (18,47,69) (Defoe 22, Cooke 19, Martin 15)
London Lions 77 (21,40,58) (Marks 18, Sturt 17, Brown 15)
Having honoured the new BBL All-Time appearance leader Fab Flournoy before the game, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle held off a fourth-quarter rally by London Lions and celebrated an 83-77 win on home court.
The festive pre-game mood was soon moved into the background, as Lions began the game with seven unanswered points and finished the first quarter with a 21-18 lead.
Chez Marks and Adrien Sturt pushed the gap back to seven points with a three-pointer each in the second period, but Eagles took it as a timely wake-up call and bounced right back. Newcastle went on a massive 21-2 spurt to push into a 41-29 advantage with Scott Martin scoring nine points during the five-minute stretch.
Having increased the gap to 11 points after three quarter, Eagles seemed to be cruising to an easy victory, but the visiting Lions weren’t ready to give up without a fight. The guests from London went on an 11-2 run behind six points from Knutson to cut the deficit two points with five minutes on the clock.
That same two-point gap separated the sides with under two right into the final minute of the game, when Darius Defoe drew a foul and converted both free throws to seal the game for Eagles.
Darius Defoe led all scorers with 22 points, Malik Cooke had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Fab Flournoy added 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.