ANOTHER superb night’s entertainment at Sport Central saw the Newcastle Eagles remain top of the BBL after a sparkling performance.
At what price, though, did the win come with the biggest news of the night a potential disastrous problem for the Eagles – an injury to their hot-shot Joe Chapman.
The Chicago-born guard is someone the Newcastle faithful have taken to their hearts, affectionately calling him Geordie Joe.
However, with just over seven minutes of the game to go and the Eagles up by 22 points, an off-the-ball collision saw Chapman taken away in a wheelchair.
The injury looked a serious one with his ankle heavily taped and the player looking in distress.
With head coach Fab Flournoy already sidelined as both a sideline caller and player, this is a serious blow to the Eagles.
While there was no early prognosis, it looks unlikely Chapman will be fit enough to travel to Glasgow for a huge game in 48 hours’ time. That is something for the backroom staff and officials to look at in the cold light of day.
When they do, they can focus in on the fact that, again under acting head coach Dave Forrester’s guidance, the men in black marched on at the top of the British Basketball League table.
The Eagles had huge performances right across the board with Charles Smith leading the way with a spectacular shooting display netting 36 points.
Trey Moore was his usual mercurial self adding an impressive nine rebounds and eight assists to his 26 points.
The home side were huge on the boards all night and laid the foundations for the win with a great defensive effort.
Kadiri Richard had 11 points and a massive 16 rebounds, while captain Andrew Bridge also pulled down an impressive 11 board.
For Jets, Quemont Greer and the BBL’s top scorer Jeremy Bell kept them in the game for long stretches – but they never had enough firepower or effort to match Newcastle’s huge energy and commitment.
A tight first quarter saw the Eagles just shade it 23-20, and in to the second period they went in to a double-digit advantage at one stage before finally closing out the half 48-40 in front.
The expected Cheshire charge in the second half never really materialised and Eagles were able to comfortably stretch their lead almost at will, pushing it out to 22 points until Chapman’s injury.
Even then, the Jets never really gave Eagles a problem as Forrester rotated his thin bench as best he couldi and even afforded Smith and Moore walk-off standing ovations from a packed Eagles house. Now it is on to Glasgow Rocks on Sunday for a huge game, and it will take a mighty effort from an injury-ravaged Newcastle side to keep this run going.
However, if anyone if anyone can they can.
NEWCASTLE: Charles Smith 36, Trey Moore 26, Kadiri Richard 11 & Joe Chapman 11
CHESHIRE: Quemont Greer 24, Jeremy Bell 19, Colin O’Reilly 17