Fab Flournoy cemented his status as a genuine British Basketball League legend after setting a new appearance record as Newcastle Eagles picked up a hard-fought success at Glasgow.
The Eagles’ arch-rivals would have loved nothing better than to spoil the party. However, Flournoy was not to be denied his moment at the Emirates Arena as he stepped on to court late in the first quarter for appearance number 541.
Having surpassed the record previously held by ex-Eagles player Pete Scantlebury, it was not exactly a vintage effort offensively by the New Yorker – who did not trouble the scorers and committed five turnovers.
Yet his defence and the way the Eagles gutted out the win was most definitely classic Flournoy.
The success and undeniably memorable occasion was made even sweeter for a variety of reasons – not least because it was achieved without the services of influential guard Paul Gause, who had to sit out the game with an injury. It also extended the Eagles’ BBL Championship winning streak to five games and continued their burgeoning record of having not yet tasted a league defeat during the current calendar year.
The icing on the cake was once Flournoy and his players eventually hit the locker room to celebrate, the news filtered through lowly Manchester Giants had inflicted an unthinkable fourth defeat in five games on defending champions Leicester Riders. Taking into account the bad blood which simmered between the Eagles and their title rivals in the flare-up after their recent meeting at Sport Central, it was very much a bonus to be enjoyed on the trip back south of the border.
Malik Cooke and Darius Defoe were the main contributors in this latest win, albeit achieved against a poor Rocks team bereft of depth, confidence and any kind of current form.
Cooke produced a smart shooting display and together with one of the most trusted lieutenants of Flournoy in Defoe, combined for 38 points.
The Eagles had started the contest strongly, but having raced into an 18-11 lead after ten minutes, the hosts pegged them back at 29-29.
Defoe then immediately handed the Eagles the advantage again with a pair of free-throws, although he probably didn’t expect his side to for the lead for the remainder of the contest.
Yet that is exactly how it panned out as the visitors just about managed to keep their opponents at arms’ length, with the home side hindered by their kingpin Daniel Northern getting into foul trouble.
Leading 62-52 with four minutes of the game remaining and looking comfortable, the Eagles did endure a brief wobble as Rocks scored six points without reply to set up a nervy finale.
However, they held firm and did what was needed from the free-throw line.
As the final buzzer sounded, it brought a historic game to a conclusion, but one so very typical of so many others Flournoy has participated in.
With momentum now behind them, things could get a lot more memorable for the club’s irrepressible driving force before the current season is over.
GLASGOW: Northern 16,Harrison 12,Urli 11
NEWCASTLE: Cooke 20,Defoe 18,Lasker 15