Charles Smith again rose to the occasion to secure victory for Newcastle Eagles and scupper Durham Wildcats’ best efforts to cause an upset in yesterday’s North East derby.
With his side in another tight dogfight, Smith nailed four from four free-throws inside the last 25 seconds to complete a superb away win for his side.
In between Smith’s four, Malik Cooke made another and the Eagles managed to hold off a spirited and determined Wildcats side that tested them all the way.
Durham have never beaten Newcastle since they arrived in the BBL but they came mightily close in this one to upsetting their illustrious neighbours and blowing the BBL Championship race wide open again.
The win keeps the Eagles on course to lift the championship trophy while denting Wildcats’ play-off hopes. It also completed an amazing weekend for Newcastle who won two tough games on the road to put themselves in pole position for the title.
Smith said: “The guys have confidence in me in that situation and I’ve been there many times in my career. It’s what you’re paid to do and what you need to do when its on the line and I was pleased they got the ball to me and I was able to do what I did.”
Smith had been off with his trademark long-range efforts but once again showed he has the strength of mind to prove he’s one of the best in the business when it comes to closing out games as Eagles recorded their second single-digit win of the weekend.
“It was tough, man was it ever. They gave us a heck of a game and made some great shots at the end to comeback.
“I mean it wasn’t like we were giving them easy looks or anything but they knocked down some tough ones.
“But we held on and I think its our inner confidence that we have right now and a feeling that we’re not going to lose that gets us over the line.
“The guys believe they are going to win and feel good at the moment. It seems as though even when its close they expect us to get the win and so it was today.”
Next up for Newcastle it’s Sheffield Sharks on Friday at Sport Central in a game which looks almost like a title decider. “Friday is a huge game. If we win we can pretty much win the league,” said Smith.