Surrey Scorchers3115131978Loss

At a time when Newcastle Eagles needed to show their mettle, enter the Rod of steel.

The lacklustre hosts had limped towards the locker room at half-time trailing by eight to a Surrey Scorchers side without a league win since January 18.

And for a team seeking to build confidence ahead of tomorrow’s BBL Trophy semi-final decider against Cheshire Phoenix, a vapid 20 minutes was nothing short of disastrous.

But Rodney Glasgow Jr didn’t sit on the sidelines for the best part of four months only to surrender so meekly given his second chance.

Rodney Glasgow Jr started for our Eagles playing 30 minutes and picking up 17 points with 6 assists.

And it was the former Virginia Military Institute man who took the fight to Surrey in the second half, leading from the front with supreme focus and no little fear.

Hot Rod might not have bagged the biggest numbers on a night when Mike Morsell and Sade Aded-Hussein combined for 40 points and 20 rebounds.

But when the chips were down it was Glasgow Jr who gave the Eagles the boost they needed ahead of tomorrow’s semi-final second leg.

For a team looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat on the road, the fixture calendar appeared to have been incredibly kind to Newcastle.

Surrey arrived on Tyneside without an away win in the league all season.

And the Scorchers faced the Eagles on the back of five straight losses, including a 16-point reverse at Glasgow Rocks last time out.

Newcastle, of course, claimed a comfortable 104-94 win in Surrey last month – a result that further strengthened their favourite status heading into last night’s clash.

But that big victory was achieved with CJ Gettys on the floor and the centre’s absence would give any rival a significant shot in the arm.

Leading the league in scoring (24.7ppg) and rebounding (13.2rpg), the towering American has been too hot to handle following his return the BBL.

And the Scorchers must have felt it was now or never in the North East once they realised the hosts’ star man was sidelined.

Boosted by the addition of former Great Britain international Matthew Bryan-Amaning last month, Surrey’s starting five wasn’t short of offensive weapons.

In fact, a wary Ian MacLeod had warned that the 4-8 Scorchers could ‘go off at any point’.

But few inside the Eagles Community Arena expected the lightning start which put the visitors in control.

Bryan-Amaning set the tone with an and-one play and although Glasgow Jr levelled the score at 5-5 that was about as good as it got for Newcastle during a brutal first quarter.

A 16-2 tear from Creon Raftopoulos’s men stunned the homecourt crowd and another sloppy defensive display from the Eagles drew justifiable criticism from the stands.

Surrey led 31-19 heading into the second quarter on the back of 51% shooting from the field and a dominant display under the boards – the BBL’s fourth-bottom side out-rebounding the men in black two-to-one.

And this looked more like a lop-sided match-up between the Scorchers’ side that pushed Leicester to the limit earlier this month and the Newcastle roster routed by the same Riders team two weeks ago.

Unsurprisingly, Surrey couldn’t quite maintain their sizzling tempo throughout period two and the Eagles dug deep to maintain a vital foothold in the game.

It wasn’t pretty from MacLeod’s men. But staying in touch was the only target and Newcastle knuckled down to reduce the deficit to eight at the half.

Whatever words were exchanged in the Eagles’ locker room during the break must have impacted hard on a group of players who emerged for the third period under serious pressure and with plenty to prove.

A sparkling 17-2 run turned a fascinating fixture on its head with Glasgow Jr, who finished with 17 points and six assists, the willing architect of a wholly unexpected comeback.

Mike Morsell led the scoring with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.

In tandem with backcourt buddy Rahmon Fletcher, the Great Britain hopeful married deadly finishing with smart distribution to haul his team back into contention.

And suddenly Surrey looked tired, tetchy and totally devoid of the offensive fluidity that had paced a fabulous first quarter.

Newcastle’s turnaround was almost complete as the Eagles took a 68-59 lead into the final period. And coach MacLeod was able to finish an ultimately thrilling fixture with youngsters Themba Yabantu and Sauveur Kande on court.

Tickets are on sale from the box office now for tomorrow’s BBL Trophy Semi-Final 2nd Leg against Cheshire Phoenix:

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