Newcastle Eagles Women2626221993Win
Manchester Giants168101549Loss

Head Coach Matt Newby had talked about the three-game run-in to the End of Season Playoffs. He said his team’s focus was on delivering the best 120 minutes of regular season  40 minutes basketball to prepare themselves for that closing competition.

The first 80 of that 120 had been delivered well. A close win at home over Oaklands Wolves and then a tough road victory in Cardiff had seen the momentum and confidence Newby wanted from his team begin to grow and flourish.

The final 40 minutes not only built on what had gone before it positively enhanced it to a level where the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles will fly into the quest for a playoff run with real hope and belief in their hearts.

Our Eagles Women thrashed Manchester Giants as they build momentum heading into the Play-Offs. (Photos: Gary Forster)

In front of an awesome 813 Women’s British Basketball League fans they rewarded the faithful followers with a performance that was simply superb. Combining tough organised defence work with powerful potent offence they felled the Giants in spectacular style.

The whole night seemed to have a sense of fulfilment and celebration as Newcastle showed that they are a side to be reckoned with and one that could just deliver even more magical moments before the season is over.

Not that Newby and his players will get carried away, although they could after such a dominant display, they know they have a tough task ahead. They will travel to Sheffield to take on the B. Braun Hatters in the one-off playoff quarter final. A team they lost twice too in the regular season.

But the last defeat to Sheffield in The VMA came only a few weeks ago and was a classic game that went right down to the wire. The Hatters just edging the contest in the last few seconds to win 76 – 74. So, undoubtedly Newcastle have a chance.

Plus, they might just have an X-Factor influence as well for that quarter final clash. USA forward Jada Dapaa missed that Hatters game through injury. After a few weeks out she was back to face Manchester and there is no doubting that she helped her team considerably.

USA Forward Jada Dapaa returned from injury. (Photos: Gary Forster)

Not just because in a mere tick over 18 minutes game time she managed to put up 16 points and 13 rebounds but the way her presence from the bench allowed Newby to make decisive rotations throughout the powerhouse 40 minutes the Eagles delivered.

It was an excellent return and inspired those around her. With All-Star forward Tierra Hodges also in imperious form netting 21 points and pulling down 18 rebounds it meant the two American almost outrebounded the whole Manchester side on their own.

Eagles scoring was actually led though by sharpshooting Abby Lowe who hit her straps early and just kept her form going all game to finish with 25 points and 7 rebounds and Captain Marina Fernandez’s 18 points came from 6 of 9 three-point shooting.

And guiding them all through it was point guard Lauren Saiki who dished out a very impressive 12 assists during the contest controlling the game’s ebb and flow the entire time she was on court. It was a very impressive all-round effort indeed from Newcastle.

They pulled down as a team a massive 61 rebounds combining it with 25 assists and only 10 turnovers. An excellent night’s work from a team that has suddenly found a level of consistency and execution to go along with the togetherness they’ve showed all season even in tough times.

Manchester actually led early with the legendary Georgia Anderson a true stalwart and inspiring figure in the Women’s game getting her side of to a good start and they actually led by 9 points to 5 early on. Then Newcastle with Lowe, Fernandez and Hodges in particular got going.

Eagles Women will go up against Sheffield Hatters in the Play-Off Quarter-Finals. (Photos: Gary Forster)

A 21 points to 7 reposte that they carried into the second period giving them the opportunity to give Dapaa minutes as well as the rest of the bench and by half-time the Eagles led 48 points to 24 and it was already very much game over.

Not that they slackened off in the second twenty minutes. Both the third and final quarters also went the way of the flying Eagles as they continued to score from everywhere as well as continuing to dominate Manchester at the defence end.

It all meant in the end a magnificently memorable 44-point win that sent a strong statement that this time may have found the formula and momentum required at exactly the right time of the season as they head to Sheffield for that tough task against the third-placed finishing Hatters.

Whatever though happens next weekend there’s no doubting that Newby’s influence and the way his side has responded to his tenure thus far has been excellent. The Eagles have turned their season around and can certainly fly in to Sheffield with more than an outside chance of victory.