There was late-night drama in Liverpool as Newcastle Eagles mauled Everton Tigers, writes JEFF KING.
A problem with their transport made Newcastle late for the tip-off last night but once they shook off the journey, they did the same to the Tigers. Charles Smith led the way with another incredible performance but he was well supported by Lynard Stewart, Alu Babalola and Jeremy Hyatt, who had not been expected to play.
It had been billed as Richard Midgley versus Newcastle Eagles but it reality it was so much more, although Midgley played his part. This was an important BBL Trophy pool game and all that really mattered was the result, which went the Eagles’ way after a highly entertaining 40 minutes.
Almost inevitably though it was Midgley who opened the scoring with a deep three. In fact, Tigers raced out to an early 14-4 lead before Fab Flournoy called time-out. The Eagles gradually clawed their way back, drawing on Smith’s shooting and Babalola’s power. Nine down they produced an 8-2 run to end the first quarter down by three at 31-28.
Tigers started the second well and were back up by nine before an Eagles 8-0 burst made it a one-point game. Five more points from Smith and Eagles led 46-44. The sides then went blow for blow until the Eagles’ 6-0 run made the score 54-51 at the half.
During the third period Newcastle made their move. With the Tigers defence floundering, the Eagles scored at will while at the same time they picked up their own D. Runs of 7-2, 13-2 and 7-3 gave them a 19-point lead at 81-62, which they took into the final 10 minutes. They then had to withstand a ferocious home fightback.
A 20-4 run suddenly cut the gap to three. But the Eagles rallied and moved back to an eight-point lead on a Babalola steal and two. Midgley’s three on the buzzer was academic as all it did was make the final score 94-99.
This was a great road win for the Eagles and a superb start to their Trophy campaign. With Scottish Rocks the other team in the group, it will be a tough one to qualify from. The Rocks are the Eagles’ next opponents on Friday and Dutch player Bryan Defares may have been signed in time for that game to help out the home side.
EVERTON TIGERS: David Aliu 31, Richard Midgley 24, Tony Robertson 13.
NEWCASTLE EAGLES: Charles Smith 38, Lynard Stewart 17, Alu Babalola and Jeremy Hyatt both 15