Mesmerising displays by Malik Cooke and Scott Martin powered Newcastle Eagles to a second British Basketball League victory of the weekend as the duo amassed a super 53 points in a vibrant 112-98 success at Manchester Giants.
Following on from Friday’s ruthless demolition of league newcomers Birmingham Knights, the Eagles despatched another struggling opponent off the back of a sensational second quarter and some sharp long-range shooting by their summer recruits.
The pair sunk seven triples, as the visitors shot the lights out from distance – Cooke making another phenomenal contribution of 32 points and Martin claiming seven rebounds to go with his 21 point haul.
Having already lost their opening three games of the new season, Jeff Jones and the Giants probably couldn’t believe their misfortune that Flournoy’s men were next on the menu and intent on making amends for having lost their last road game.
However, the honours were even after a first quarter when both teams seemed happy to trade light blows and exchange baskets.
Consequently the hosts were visibly heartened to find themselves on an even keel at 27-27 heading into the second quarter, helped by Paul Gause being called for a technical foul for arguing with one of the referees.
However, the impressive work of the Giants was soon to implode, since the Eagles subsequently exploded in decidedly spectacular fashion.
The second quarter was a one-way street in the favour of Newcastle, who pulverised the Giants 37-18 during the period.
They expertly exploited the non-existent home defence and on the rare occasions it was in situ, they picked it apart in fine style with great outside shooting, incisive ball movement and effective penetration to the basket.
In addition to the headline contributions of Cooke and Martin, both Gause and Drew Lasker impressed in the guard spots and veteran favourite Charles Smith eventually corralled a very useful 19 points to go with a sterling seven assists.
Having racked up an eye-popping 64 points in the first-half to take a commanding 19-point advantage to the locker room at the interval, it was perhaps inevitable the Eagles would have to contend with a second-half storm.
With their pride dented by their woeful defensive efforts ahead of the break, the Giants came out with all guns blazing in the third quarter and the trend continued until the final buzzer as they rued their earlier loose play.
While Cooke hit a three-pointer to take the lead out to as many as 22 points, the Giants’ more aggressive approach at both ends of the court eventually laid the foundation of an improbable, but gutsy comeback bid.
When Rob Marsden scored for Giants to cut the gap to just seven points with less than five minutes left on the game clock, the Eagles were in danger of wobbling a little too much, but they found the scoring splurge needed to pull away again during the closing stages.
The win keeps the Eagles in the early BBL title pack, chasing down the only unbeaten team in the entire league in the shape of Worcester Wolves, who have won all five games so far.