Team1234TResult
Eagles2224291691Loss
Manchester Giants2111283595Win

Unpredictability is what drives the glorious spectacle that is professional sport.

The fact that a rank outsider could defy the odds and win today’s Grand National persuades millions of punters to take a chance.

Watch highlights of Eagles vs Manchester Giants

 

And the possibility of an unheralded pro emerging from the pack to take the green jacket at this weekend’s US Masters will have audiences the world over on the edge of their seats.


Sport thrives on the unexpected. Its unscripted drama feeds off the unknown.

But right now Ian MacLeod is desperate to know which Newcastle Eagles team is going to turn up next.

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Maybe the side that steamrollered pre-season favourites London Lions in the first half of last month’s stunning win against Vince Macaulay’s men?


Or, on this evidence, the unconvincing roster that ground out an ugly win against basement side Glasgow Rocks before crashing to defeat against the Scots’ fellow strugglers Surrey Scorchers last weekend.

Consistently inconsistent, the men in black are hardly building up a head of steam as they approach this season’s playoffs.

And yet MacLeod’s side has never been out of the league’s top three, comfortably won the BBL Cup against London and boasts a 4-3 season record against the star-studded Lions.

Newcastle are a conundrum. A contradictory mix of unquestionable quality and fragile confidence.


But make no mistake — a team that blows hot and cold faced Manchester Giants needing to turn up the temperature following Sunday’s meek Surrey surrender. That the Eagles failed is cause for serious concern.

Without Rahmon Fletcher things could be much, much worse.

Rahmon Fletcher scored 28-points with 9 assists in the home defeat to Manchester Giants (Photos: Abbie Naisbitt)

Reassuringly dependable for most of the season, the two-time BBL MVP is the man who makes the Eagles tick.

And the early signs were positive for the hosts as Fletcher raced to 12 first period points on his way to a joint career high of 38.

Manchester, with former Newcastle Comet Ploutos Vourliotis assisting newly installed head coach Lloyd Gardner, arrived on Tyneside with just one win in their last 10 games.

But the visitors must have watched tapes of the Eagles’ back-to-back losses against Surrey and wondered whether they could be the next bottom three team to embarrass MacLeod’s men.

An even opening 10 minutes suggested anything could happen.

Even with Fletcher bossing things at the offensive end, Newcastle looked vulnerable in defence on their way to a 22-21 first quarter lead.

But with their skipper continuing to pour in the points — and Evan Maxwell easing his way towards 12 first half rebounds — the Eagles found another gear in the second period.

Evan Maxwell clocked-up a double-double of 10-points and 15 rebounds (Photos: Abbie Naisbitt)

Manchester had no answer to Fletcher’s rapid footwork in the paint and another stuffed Cortez Edwards stat line was starting to take shape.

Celebrating an eighth All Star Five appearance of the season thanks to a dominant display against the Rocks, the former Worcester favourite took eight rebounds, five points and four assists into the half.

Newcastle led 46-32 with 20 minutes to play and Fletcher extended the Eagles’ advantage from the free throw line at the start of the second half — courtesy of Gardner.

The frustrated Giants’ coach spoke out of turn as he headed towards the locker room during the interval and picked up a technical foul in the process.

But Manchester were far from finished and eating away at Newcastle’s brittle self-belief was still very much in the minds of Gardner’s men.

The Giants trimmed the deficit to five points midway through the third quarter before a brace of Fletcher triples steadied the ship and saw the BBL’s top scorer move to 31.

It should have been game over for Manchester as the Eagles took a 75-60 lead into the final period but another Jekyll and Hyde display from the hosts went from bad to worse.

With the technical fouls flying, Gardner’s side embarked on a stunning 19-2 run to start the quarter — taking a 79-77 lead with four minutes on the clock.

And the impressive Giants stayed strong down the stretch to inflict another sobering defeat on nervy Newcastle and ask yet more questions of the BBL’s most enigmatic roster.