Surrey Heat 96 (21, 48, 68) (Holmes F 35, Holmes C 20, Holmes T 20)
Newcastle Eagles 92 (34, 50, 74) (Smith 25, Maddox 24, Chapman 16)
(Eagles win 202-178 on aggregate)
Newcastle Eagles slipped to a 96-92 defeat in the second leg of their BBL Play-off semi-final against Surrey Heat, but will get the chance to defend their title at Wembley next Sunday after easing through on aggregate.
Heading into the contest with a 28 point victory from a sizzling performance in the first-leg at Sport Central, it was always going to take one of the biggest upsets in British Basketball history to deny the Eagles their passage to the climax of the season. And, despite a quite sublime 35 point performance by Frank Holmes (pictured), Heat could only finish the season with mixed feelings after missing on their Wembley ticket, but completing a comeback to finish with a victory.
It was the visitors who started the contest in impressive fashion, continuing where they left off in the first-leg with an offensive onslaught led by Kareem Maddox. He was unstoppable early and helped Eagles open up an early advantage with some great work on the glass and under the basket.
They also scored the last eleven points of the opening period, to further extend their advantage to an outrageous 41 in the tie and effectively kill the hopes of even the most optimistic of Heat fans.
But, the home side did have their pride and after an impressive season which saw them finish in fourth place in the league, they clearly wanted to finish their campaign on a high and came storming back. Heat outscored the Eagles 27-16 in the second quarter, to narrow to within two points by half-time at 50-48.
Whilst the Eagles restored a double-digit lead heading into the last ten minutes, the home team weren’t to be denied an impressively gutsy fight back as Chavis and Travis Holmes weighed in with a combined 40 points to support namesake Frank.
He levelled matters at 82-82 and Sam Cricelli put the hosts in front moments later. Whilst Eagles grabbed the lead back once more, Heat finished strongly to head into the summer off the back of a win.