BBL Championship
Sheffield Sharks 78 (24,40,60) (Tuck 21, Odister 18, Brooks 17)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 85 (24,40,63) (Smith 25, Fletcher 15, Chapman 13)
The reigning BBL Champions, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle, started their pursuit of a third consecutive BBL Championship title with a hard fought 78-85 road win at Sheffield Sharks.
The Eagles have returned much of their clean sweep winning side from last season, and it was veteran Charles Smith who led the way with 25 points, on a night when they had five players score in double-figures.
Eagles had beaten the Sharks by 30 points when they last met, in the Play-Off semi-finals last season, and they flirted with a double digit lead early in this game, at 12-21, before Mike Tuck pulled the Sharks back as he scored 11 first quarter points.
And the game was tight from there, with the Eagles having to come back before the half when they scored the last seven points, capped by Smith’s three-pointer to tie the game at 40.
The teams were still tied, at 73, inside the final five minutes of the game, when Smith connected from long range once more and gave the visitors a lead that they would not relinquish. He added another to keep the hosts at arm’s length, while Andy Thomson and Joe Chapman maintained their composure at the free-throw line to see the game out, with the Sharks missing five of their last six shots.