SURREY UNITED 58 ESH GROUP EAGLES 106Newcastle Eagles soared to a majestic win to claim their seventh BBL title in the last 10 seasons, writes JEFF KING.
The 2014 BBL Champions will have the number one seed as they prepare to enter the end-of-season play-offs.
And for once yesterday was not about the game but all about the result and what it means to an organisation that prides itself on performance and being considered the team that sets the standards the others strive to reach.
No one measures that standard more than head coach Fab Flournoy who is relentless in his search for perfection and basketball glory.
Flournoy enjoyed the feeling at the end of a great weekend’s work and a fabulous finish to the regular season.
“It feels good for us to celebrate as a family as well as a team,” said Flournoy. “It’s great for my players, for all the staff and the great travelling support to be there and it was a great feeling to lift that trophy again in front of them all and be crowned as 2014 BBL champions.
“These guys have been so competitive and have reasserted us as a competitive team.
“Others have been saying Newcastle are too old, Newcastle aren’t deep enough, Newcastle aren’t this and aren’t that.
“But we’ve shown them we’re all that and more.
“It feels really satisfying because this set of guys have helped me reinvent myself this season and in particular since the Cup loss in January.
“They’ve helped me change things as a coach. We’ve had to change things around. We’ve always had a certain style and standard and we’ve had to change that formula and do a lot of different things.
“The way the guys have responded has been great. I have to give a lot of credit to them as players, a lot of credit to the coaching staff as well as we’ve had to change our formula and for them to buy in and get our rewards is great.”
This has been a great team effort throughout the season from a group of players that can all top the scoring on any given day but also are unselfish, work hard for each other, are together and there for each other.
Yesterday it was Paul Gause who set the tone early and got his side in front.
Eagles then turned the screw superbly in a devastating second quarter that saw Darius Defoe lead the way.
However it was the collective defence of all the players on court that saw them shut down the home side to have the game killed off by half time.
The second 20 minutes was a procession as the Eagles coasted to victory and the title, with Malik Cooke cashing in on a flattened Surrey side.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Eagles team celebrated together on court in some style.
Now for the play-offs and Flournoy feels his team are ready for the challenge.
“The play-offs are a totally different atmosphere,” said Flournoy. “You have eight teams all starting again and all with something to play for.
“Right now we need to take stock, enjoy our moment and celebrate it as we deserve to.
“After enjoying this time we’ll rest up, regroup, and come together refreshed and ready to focus in on that last piece of silverware. We want to win it badly and we need to work out what we need to do to make sure we can do that.”
SURREY: Isiah Tate 21, Nick Freer 14, Ceslovas Kucinskas 7.
NEWCASTLE: Malik Cooke 23, Paul Gause 23, Darius Defoe 19.