Lions look best bet for Eagles

If any game in the BBL can be termed meaningless then the Springfield Honda Newcastle Eagles' loss yesterday at Plymouth could be that game.

If any game in the BBL can be termed meaningless then the Springfield Honda Newcastle Eagles' loss yesterday at Plymouth could be that game.

The Eagles had already qualified for a home game in the end of season play-offs and could not improve on their third position even had they won. Meanwhile, the win for the Raiders confirmed them as the fifth best placed team in the BBL.

All this means it will be the Milton Keynes Lions who will travel north on Tuesday April 17 to take on Newcastle at the Metro Radio Arena in the play-off quarter-final. The Raiders win qualifies them to travel to Scottish Rocks.

Given the fact the Eagles have lost three times to Plymouth this season it may well be they'd rather face the Lions for the right to defend their last remaining piece of silverware, the BBL play-off championship.

It was an even start to the game yesterday with the Eagles just easing in front thanks to 8-3 run that included a Jeremy Hyatt three-pointer and Tony Dorsey's first basket of the game. However, Newcastle were hit by a stunning 13-0 run by their hosts which gave Plymouth the lead at the end of the first by 28-19.

The Raiders then hit the first four points of the second quarter to lead by 13 before the Eagles gradually came back into the game. An 11-3 burst by Newcastle closed the gap to only two but they couldn't keep that going and when Jeff Danchie nailed a triple on the half-time buzzer, it meant the home side had a seven-point lead at 48-41.

Dorsey and Hyatt went to work in the third and when Dorsey capped a 12-4 run with a basket inside, Newcastle were in front by one. They pushed this out to three but back came Plymouth with another fine 9-2 run to end the period in front by four at 65-61.

The Raiders then produced the burst for the start of the final period that made the game safe. A determined 16-4 opening had them in front by 16 points and although Newcastle finished the game the stronger, the damage had been done. The Eagles did manage to cut the gap to six by the end, but Plymouth took their third win in five games against Newcastle this season.

All attention now switches to the quarter-final home tie against Milton Keynes in ten days' time.

With the Final Four weekend also scheduled for the Metro Radio Arena at the end of the month this is a must win game for Newcastle if they are to salvage anything from this season.

Meanwhile, Guildford Heat's 114-85 home win yesterday over London United gave them the title of BBL champions for the first time in their short history.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer