BBL Play-Off Semi-Final (2nd Leg)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 83 (25,43,61,73) (Defoe 25, Cooke 18, Smith 16) Leicester Riders 71 (16,39,50,62) (Couisnard 20, Sullivan 17, Hassan 15)
(Esh Group Eagles Newcastle win 162-161 on aggregate)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle needed overtime against the visiting Leicester Riders, but became the first team to book a ticket to Wembley for the BBL Play-Off Final in a week’s time.  Having erased an 11-point deficit from the first leg in regulation, the BBL Championship winners finished off the deed in overtime, registering an 83-71 victory after five extra minutes to win the tie by a single point on aggregate.
Paul Gause had given Eagles a 73-58 lead with 1:36 left in regulation, but a pair of baskets by Drew Sullivan and Rashad Hassan evened up the score, forcing an extra period. However, the hosts restored the 15-point margin in extra time, only to see it sliced to 12 points with 11 seconds to go after Sullivan’s three-pointer.
Although Riders managed to get a steal and had an opportunity to swing the tie their way, Jay Calvo’s shot with a couple of seconds remaining didn’t reach the target, with the home crowd in Newcastle breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Eagles, who dominated the game the whole way after breaking away already in the opening quarter, dominated the glass, out-rebounding Riders 53-36, with three Newcastle players finishing the evening with double digits in rebounds.
Darius Defoe (pictured) led all scorers with 25 points for the hosts, Malik Cooke scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and registered five steals, while Charles Smith chipped in to the hugely important victory with a big double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds.
For Riders, Jay Couisnard had a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds, Drew Sullivan added 17 points, with Rashad Hassan collecting 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.