SHOOTING ace Jeremy Hyatt has demanded patience after the Eagles inched closer to the BBL league championship with a comfortable 91-82 win against Sheffield Sharks last night. Having been doubtful for the game with another injury, Hyatt came off the bench to fire a game-high 21 points as the title chasers closed in on their ultimate goal.

He was well supported with Lynard Stewart claiming a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds against his former club with the Eagles never truly needing to raise their game too much.

Hyatt said: ‘When it comes to talk of winning the league the most important factor in all of this is to just stay mentally strong and look at the next game. I know that is a cliché in sport but it is a pretty good one to take into account when you need to take care of business.’

‘That is what it boils down to and the biggest danger is that as a player and as a club you get too far ahead of yourselves. We need to bide our time and be patient. If we keep to this way of looking at things then I am confident we will be happy, and so will the fans come the end of the season.’

‘We have a deep team with a lot of talent, and if we keep stepping up for each game and keep the ship going then we will be just fine. Hyatt added: ‘It was exciting playing in front of a big crowd and that gave us a lot of adrenalin, which is what we needed to keep going. We played pretty solid all the way through.’

If anyone was in doubt as to whether complacency might cost the Eagles a coveted league title, it was a notion blown away by an explosive slam dunk by player coach Fab Flournoy.

It was a breathtaking statement of intent during a frantic opening in front of a boisterous and bumper midweek Arena crowd of more than 3,000 who watched their side take a 26-21 lead thanks to 12 quick points from Darius Defoe.

Unfortunately, the high tempo affected the quality and, with turnovers aplenty combined, it was not the best advert for the BBL – although the Eagles did at least showcase their defensive qualities. They held the visitors to just three points in six minutes to take a double-figure advantage at 34-24, which they stretched to 43-31 at the break.

The home side were just doing enough and the Sharks were seemingly sleepwalking through the game, something which more or less continued during the third quarter and indeed the last 10 minutes. That was until Hyatt effectively sealed the win with a hat-trick of three-pointers midway through the final quarter as the Eagles coasted home.

NEWCASTLE: Hyatt 21, Stewart 17, Defoe 17.
SHEFFIELD: Chaney 19, A Virgil 15, Niesler 13.