London Lions1915212580Loss

Make that six wins on the bounce and now five in-a-row in the British Basketball League and a record now above .500. If the win last Saturday night at Caledonia wasn’t a statement win, this one in London most certainly was.

Remember that win in Caledonia was a back-to-back win on the road in a building where the Gladiators had never lost. This magnificent road win was a truly superb Capital showing demolishing London’s pride on their own court for the first time this season in a domestic encounter.

Watch highlights of Eagles at Lions:


Much was made of the Lions line-up and the fact that they were coming off back-to-back games having won in the Eurocup 101 – 95 against Ljubljana the previous night. Much was made of the much-changed roster but that would be unfair on a simply brilliant all-round team effort from Newcastle.

Marc Steutel’s men are in some form at the moment and continue to grow as a team and build up a head of steam that is impressing everyone in British basketball at the moment. There is no way that the roster London put out had any other intention than being a winning one.

Coach Steutel has led his Eagles to a run of five league wins back-to-back in recent weeks making six in total including last month’s away ENBL game.

That’s what they’ve been built for. That’s what the investment has been about and nights like this are the ones where their deep much vaunted roster are supposed to be able to cover for. They didn’t and in the end were soundly beaten by a rampant high-flying Eagles side.

This was down to the quality, confidence and ability of a Newcastle side really beginning to show that the pre-season hype surrounding their recruitment and intentions may now be starting to fall into place.

Rickey McGill was one of five Eagles players in double-figures last night.

For the first time this season Steutel had a full roster to work with. Larry Austin Jr. who had missed the previous five games and wins was back. Would his presence upset the apple cart and mean Newcastle’s camaraderie that they have built up be upset? Not a bit of it. It actually added to it.

Jordan Johnson once again scooped the MVP award on the night and with 25 points, 6 assists and 4 steals it was difficult to dispute that. Josh Ward-Hibbert was once again immense from the bench with 23 points and 4 rebounds. Tahj Green a menace at both ends of the floor with 16 points and 7 rebounds.

Then there was Rickey McGill with 13 points and 6 assists. But what a return this was from Austin Jr. who in what Steutel called ‘limited’ minutes, produced 14 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and no turnovers in only 19 and a half minutes.

Veteran Eagles star and captain Darius Defoe continues to hold a starting spot and make a commanding impact at both ends of the floor.

Clearly he’s used his time on the bench injured to work out how he can best help and influence the game and support his teammates and showed that superbly as he answered his Coach’s call.

London led twice in the game. Both times by a single point and both times in the first quarter. Johnson hitting a triple at 7 – 8 down to take Newcastle into a lead they never ever looked like losing thereafter.

It was carnage as superb defence led to opportunistic, controlled and devasting offence and by half-time The Eagles had swept into an incredible 62 points to 34 lead and perhaps the game was done. Lions though had one last and perhaps their only run left in them.

Jordan Johnson was crowd Sky Sports’ Player of the Game from the clash against title-holders and top-of-the-table London Lions.

Coming out in the third desperate for pride if nothing else they scored ten unanswered and despite a Newcastle time-out scored another five to Eagles two to cut the gap to 15 points. Would Newcastle wobble? Not a bit of it they rallied, re-grouped and saw out the third with a 20 points to six run.

It meant they’d won the first three periods and had a 29-point lead to defend in the final quarter. They did that comfortably despite London taking the ten-minute period to record what, domestically at least, was their most impressive performance of the season.

It should stand them in great stead as they continue their travels to Surrey Scorchers on Saturday night looking for a seventh consecutive victory and a straight shooting six in the regular season League campaign. It would be a brave person that would bet against this Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles right now.