Glasgow Rocks 86 (18,40,59) (Sapp 26, Yanders 21, Davis 13)
Newcastle Eagles 90 (21,42,67) (Smith 21, Jackson 19, Defoe 18)
The Newcastle Eagles defeated rivals the Glasgow Rocks by 86-90 to round off the opening weekend of the BBL season precisely where they ended last season: atop the BBL Championship table.
The Eagles were led by 21 points from Charles Smith, a former Rock, 19 points from Reggie Jackson and a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds for Darius Defoe. The Rocks were inspired by good guard play from Jessie Sapp, with 26 points and 7 assists, and Rob Yanders, with 21 points and 9 assists.
The Rocks had a fast start to the game as back-to- back three-pointers from Sterling Davis and Steve Parillon made the score 8-3. However, the visitors held them scoreless for the next four minutes and took the lead at 8-9 on a Defoe score. After the Rocks regained the lead, Andrew Bridge hit five straight points to see Newcastle into an 11-14 lead. Within the final minute Davis tied the game at 18 with a triple, only for Charles Smith to connect from long range on the buzzer for an 18-21 Newcastle edge.
Still the teams could hardly be separated in a second stanza during which they were tied three times, despite the Eagles gaining an early five-point lead as Fab Flournoy opened the period. The Rocks tied at 27 after Sapp made a three-pointer and Yanders scored. Bridge and Yanders then exchanged triples, before the Rocks took the lead at 33-32 after a further three- pointer from Murray. The final four minutes of the half saw seven lead changes and, after scoring his team’s last seven points in the first quarter, Charles Smith scored the last six points for his team in this quarter, including an old-fashioned three-point play with 4 seconds left to see them lead 40-42 going into the dressing rooms.
The reigning champions made a move in the third quarter as an early 8-0 run gave them a 46-52 lead and a further five straight points made it 49-57, with Reggie Jackson scoring nine points in the first five minutes. The Rocks hung on with triples from Sapp and Davis but a further four points each from Jackson and Defoe kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Eagles and they led 59-67 going into the decisive stanza.
The Rocks came storming back early in the fourth, despite Jackson hitting five early points to give the Eagles their first double-digit lead. Murray’s three- point play sparked a 9-2 run, capped by back-to-back baskets from Sapp, that brought the Rocks back into the game at 70-74 with six minutes to play. The Eagles responded with an 11-3 burst, including five more for Smith and looked to have the game won at 73-85 with three minutes on the clock. However, there was one last stand from the Rocks as five more points from Sapp in a 9-0 run made it a one possession game at 82-85 with 1:28 remaining. But the Eagles withstood that charge with a triple from Smith and Flournoy and Jackson each making 1/2 at the line within the last minute.