Sheffield Sharks gained revenge for Friday’s heavy defeat the hands of Newcastle Eagles by claiming a nailbiting 66-61 win in yesterday’s South Yorkshire rematch.
The two teams were tied at 33-33 at the half and the hosts took a one-point lead into the final period.
But Sheffield pulled away in the fourth quarter and held Newcastle scoreless in the final minute as both sides wrapped up their pre-season programme.
New signing John Mitchell travelled with the Eagles for the first time after touching down on Tyneside the previous day.
And the Bronx-based forward played 22 minutes on his Newcastle debut – bagging five points, five boards and three assists.
“It’s been a very useful pre-season,” admitted Eagles’ interim head coach Ian MacLeod. “We’ve had pre-seasons in the past where we’ve defeated opponents by 30 or 40 points and that hasn’t really been of benefit.
“If you ask me whether I’d rather win early or win late I’d always say late. If we’re winning games in May I’ll be happy.”
Newcastle flew out of the blocks against the Sharks to open up a 19-9 first quarter lead. But Sheffield halted a 12-0 Eagles run early in the second and went on a 14-0 tear of their own to even things up.
The hosts led 48-47 with 10 minutes to play and a strong showing from 21-point Bennett Koch paced Atiba Lyons’ men.
Newcastle were again without injured duo Sade Aded Hussein and Kai Williams with the latter more likely to suit up against Cheshire in the BBL Cup on Friday.
“We’ll make a decision on Sade on the day,” added MacLeod. “But I’m hoping Kai will recover from a back injury in time to face the Phoenix.”
*Newcastle Eagles WBBL returned with a win and a loss from a weekend of friendly action in the East Midlands as Chris Bunten’s pre-season programme gathered pace.
Saturday saw Newcastle’s women claim an impressive 81-65 win against the homecourt Leicester Riders.
And although the Eagles slipped to a 73-65 loss against the same opposition 24 hours later Bunten was delighted with an overwhelmingly positive trip.
“At this stage the scores don’t really matter and I’m just focusing on the bigger picture,” said Newcastle’s playcaller.
“Over the course of the weekend we really committed to defence and the only difference between the two days was that we shot better in the first game.
“What I’ll take away from game two is keeping Leicester down to nine points and 10 points in the second and fourth quarters.
“Last season we didn’t always do our job defensively but that’s something I’m determined to change.
“The signs are good and we can approach next weekend’s homecourt friendly against Sheffield with confidence.”