After a season without silverware the Esh Group Eagles Newcastle - the BBL’s most successful franchise of all time – have another trophy for the cabinet after clinching the BBL Championship title on Sunday, while the play-off chase won’t be decided until next weekend.
Fab Flournoy’s side won their sixth Championship after a 106-58 demolition of Surrey United, with the Eagles led by 23 points apiece from Malik Cooke and Paul Gause.
United had an early 12-9 lead but after that it was all one-way traffic as the Eagles found another gear. After posting a 20-0 run in the second quarter to lead 55-24 at the half, there was no doubt that the trophy was heading back to Tyneside.
“We knew what we needed to do today, we came out here and we did it,” said a delighted Flournoy.
“No disrespect to Surrey at all, but we had a chance to enjoy the game as we were playing it.”
It was a much tighter affair the previous night after the Eagles won 87-71 at Birmingham Knights, Cooke leading all scorers with 24 points as the Eagles finally broke open a close game open in the second half.
“When we play two games in a week, the first game we don’t normally play very well and won’t get out to a good start,” admitted Flournoy.
“Yesterday helped us because it gave us a chance to get into game rhythm for today.”
Title challengers Worcester Wolves and One Health Sharks Sheffield kept up pressure to the end, but will now have to battle it out for second place.
Zaire Taylor led the way for the Wolves on Thursday with a game-high 22 points in a 98-73 win at London Lions and on Friday, he led the Wolves again with 17 points in an 84-76 victory over Leicester Riders.
BJ Holmes’ 22 points helped Sheffield to edge past Surrey United on Friday evening, 87-76, despite a season-high 34 points from United’s Nick Freer.
The Sharks then delivered a blow to the Glasgow Rocks’ play-offs hopes with a 67-65 comeback win on Sunday.
The Rocks had fought their way back into playoff contention after a 90-77 win at Cheshire Phoenix last Wednesday but at the Emirates Arena on Sunday, the Glasgow side surrendered a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. Holmes again led the Sharks with 16 points, while Chris Johnson had 21.
Durham’s playoff hopes also suffered a setback after their 86-76 defeat at home to Leicester Riders on Sunday; Andrew Sullivan leading the Riders with 26 points.
The Riders will now face Cheshire Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs after they wrapped up fifth spot with a 97-78 win over Birmingham Knights.
Dominique Coleman led the way for Cheshire with 27 points as they needed a big effort in the second half to overcome a strong performance from the basement side.
Finally, after just missing out on the playoffs last season, Manchester Giants took a step towards booking their place for this year’s competition after their 99-80 victory over Plymouth University Raiders.
James Jones led all scorers with 21 points as the Giants moved up to seventh place, level with Plymouth but having won the tie-breaking head-to-head, and two points clear of Durham and Glasgow in joint ninth.