Eagles to home in on glory

A rampant Newcastle Eagles romped to an easy 109-84 play-off quarter-final win against Milton Keynes last night to book their place at BBL Finals Weekend.

A rampant Newcastle Eagles romped to an easy 109-84 play-off quarter-final win against Milton Keynes last night to book their place at BBL Finals Weekend.

Eagles supporters and British basketball fans generally will be breathing a collective sigh of relief today in the knowledge that the hosts of the showpiece event at the Metro Radio Arena will be present for what promises to be an exciting climax to the season.

The Eagles' qualification means the top four teams in the league have all progressed, with Newcastle pencilled in for a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Sheffield a week on Saturday.

Their success against the Lions never really looked in doubt, with the Springfield Honda-backed club winning every quarter and young-gun Darius Defoe showing why he is the league's deadliest finisher.

The Londoner recorded an astonishing 18 points and 14 rebounds in just 20 minutes and was the pick in what was a solid all-round team performance.

It means that the 22-year-old will rack up a hat-trick of play-off finals weekends.

He said: "I am pleased our season didn't end because had we lost against the Lions then it would have been a bit too much to take.

"As it was, we played well and our motivation was to make it to the final four. We have done that comfortably and we are excited about playing Sheffield.

"We are raring to go and won't be easing off. From my own perspective I have worked hard all week and focused on rebounding and that paid dividends for me."

"We won't be taking any real time off between now and the semi-final. These next 10 days or so are just as important as the game itself against Sheffield," added Defoe.

"We will see what happens when it eventually arrives for us but it can't come quickly enough as far as the players are concerned."

There had been little to separate the two sides after the opening exchanges with the scores tied at 16-16 although the hosts finished the period strongly with a 10-2 run to lead 28-20.

The second quarter saw Olu Babalola impressing, coming off the bench with some sterling defence and a three-pointer, whilst Defoe dunked the Eagles into a double-figure lead at 33-22.

A couple of classic moves by Tony Dorsey helped Newcastle take a healthy 48-36 interval lead, with only ex-Eagles forward Tony Windless impressing for the Lions.

While Terrell Brown and Shawn Jamison gave their support to Windless in the second half for the visitors, the main talking point was confusion over the exact score.

After a delay it was resolved, and whilst a further score was inexplicably missed soon after, it didn't prove to be of any real consequence as the Eagles eased home to retain their dream of scooping that last piece of BBL silverware.

Newcastle: Robinson 22, Defoe 18, Babalola 18.

Milton Keynes: Jamison 26, Windless 16, New 13.

Last night's match was sponsored by Jonny Kennedy North East

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