Newcastle Eagles moved into the top four of the BBL Championship with a tremendous road victory at Surrey last night. The Eagles were in control of a game where the referees played a big part with technical fouls and ejections a-plenty in a tempestuous 40 minutes.
However, the bigger part was played by Newcastle and the newest Eagle CJ Gettys who once again was in unstoppable mode at both ends of the floor. The BBL Player of the Month for December he launched his bid for January’s honour in huge and spectacular style.
Whether it was pulling a rebound at either end, he ended up with 19 on the night, or crashing home a slam-dunk on offence he was completely dominant all night and scorched the hometown side to the tune of 34 massive points.
He was given excellent support from his team-mates as well with no fewer than five other Newcastle players getting into double figures including all the starting five. Eddie Matthew deservedly kept his place in that five and was joined in the absence of the injured Darius Defoe by Sade Aded Hussein.
Indeed, not only did the Eagles have to do without veteran forward Defoe who had a hamstring strain they also lost Mike Morsell early in the second quarter after the American who had racked up an early 10 points was forced off with an injury.
But basketball is a team game and it’s all about the roster you put together to compensate for such eventualities and Newcastle’s bench certainly covered their injuries in final style. Ex-Scorcher Nick Schlitzer hitting five triples on his way to a second top score of 16.
Eagles also were without on-court general Rahmon Fletcher for a long period after he picked up two personal plus a technical foul in the first ten-minute period. It mattered not and then when Fletcher did return in the second half, he added 9 assists to his 11 points.
That helped the Eagles anchor the last period which was the only one of the four that was shared between the two teams. It was advantage Eagles in the first two periods where they made the decisive difference that gave them the cushion for the final two periods.
Down 10 – 7 early they produced a 12 – 2 run to take a seven-point advantage and although Surrey levelled following Fletcher’s technical, a Schlitzer free-throw and Morsell basket edged the first period 26 – 23.
The second was where Newcastle made their big push. With the teams tied at 32-points each, Eagles produced a scintillating fifteen points unanswered to surge into an unassailable lead and took a 55 – 42 lead into the locker room at the half.
Surrey did briefly threaten a comeback in the third quarter and got within six points at one stage but back-to-back triples from Matthew and Kai Williams restored the advantage and that was as close as Scorchers got.
The visitors were back up by fourteen as time ticked down and only a late Surrey surge made the game score almost look respectable until a Hussein dunk finished the scoring for the night. This score led to an unsavoury incident which saw Hussein ejected from the game.
He was joined on the naughty list by Scorchers James Hawthorne and Adrian Kuyinu. Tempers threatened to boil over but with only one second left on the clock, the Scorchers accepted their fate and the game ended in a convincing win for the Eagles.
Newcastle are back at home this Friday night when Cheshire Phoenix return to the ECA. Tickets are still available: