BBL Play-Off Quarter-Finals, first leg
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 91 (18, 36, 66)(Fletcher 32, Chapman 19, Lasker 16)
Cheshire Phoenix 104 (22, 45, 79)(Rochford 34, Huffor 21, Taylor 19)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle have a mountain to climb if they are to defend their BBL Play-Offs crown after falling to a 104-91 Quarter-Final first leg defeat at the hands of Cheshire Phoenix on Friday.
The holders started without key forwards Scott Martin and Andrew Thomson and in their absence simply could not stop Kinu Rochford, who exploded for 34 points and 11 rebounds.
The momentum shifted when, after falling behind early, Phoenix scored 12 unanswered points either side of the first period buzzer.
From there on, Eagles did little wrong offensively, particularly Rahmon Fletcher, who scored 32 points, but their lack of depth without Martin and Thomson told.
Fab Flournoy’s bench did not contribute a single point while, as they continued to get good looks at the basket inside, Phoenix went from strength to strength – off the back of a league victory against Eagles last weekend.
Even into the closing moments Eagles strived to cut the gap to single figures, but it was not to be.
Danny Huffor continued his good form with 21 points for Phoenix, along with 19 from Quincy Taylor.
Charles Smith had a 12-point, 14-rebound double-double in a losing effort for Newcastle, who enter Sunday’s return leg still with a slim chance of advancing, but hoping for their stars to return.