Newcastle Eagles have retained their BBL League Championship after the Sheffield Sharks lost a thrilling match against Worthing Thunder, 97 – 95. The Sharks needed to win to force the Newcastle Eagles to make the trip to Glasgow and register a win against the Scottish Rocks. A daunting task to say the least!
The Sheffield Sharks travelled to Worthing, on Saturday evening, knowing that they must win to keep their title ambitions alive. This would force the Eagles to win in Glasgow and take the title, because the Eagles had the better of the mini-series of games against Sheffield. However it was Worthing Thunder that took charge against the Sharks, as they needed to win to secure a better league position, in preparation for the play-offs. Worthing played some positive basketball in the game, and at one point in the game had a 20 point lead. But the Sharks are a resilient side and closed the gap by the solid shooting of Mike Cook allied to some impressive boards from ex-Eagle Tafari Toney. It was game on!
A Sharks time out with 4 seconds left in the game, was clearly to remind the players of a set play. So it was and the ball arrived in the hands of Mike Cook, the game’s leading scorer, in three point land. Up went the shot and all eyes were on the basket. Cook scores the Sharks win by one and the title is still up for grabs, but a miss gives the game to Worthing and the title to the Eagles. The ball arced, rattled the rim and…………bounced out! The rebound was collected by Worthing’s Kadiri Richard and the Sharks had lost, their title asspirations were on hold for another year and Worthing strengthened their own play-off hopes. The Sharks had fought hard and Mike Cook had levelled the game, 95 – 95, with seconds remaining. Overtime beckoned, but one final offence was possible for Worthing and they engineered an opening for Evaldas Zabas’s bucket with just four seconds remaining. Cue the time out and the Cook miss that broke Sheffield hearts.
The Eagles prepared to travel to Glasgow, with a band of loyal travelling fans, including the famous ‘OOTA’ group, all primed to raor the Eagles to title success, but Worthing’s win means that the Eagles can use this game as preparation for the play-offs, where Fab will be satisfied with nothing less than 3 wins to secure that title as well.
Thanks to Worthing the Eagles fans can celebrate their team’s fourth title success in the last five years. A special mention must go to owner Paul Blake and his wife Sam, who put in hours of hard work to make the Newcastle Eagles the best team in the land.
Thank you, Paul, Sam, Fab and his coaches and, importantly, the players for another tremendous season, now let’s party and win the play-off crown as well.