Newcastle Eagles player-coach Fabulous Flournoy celebrated equalling the all-time BBL record of 540 appearances with an emphatic win over the Sheffield Sharks.
The Eagles won 69-59 as their double-header weekend got off to the perfect start, with Flournoy (pictured below) leading his side to victory at Sport Central.
The record was previously held by Peter Scantlebury – a former player for the Sharks, the Eagles and the Sunderland Saints.
But Flournoy is set to overtake his former team-mate – the two having won bronze with England at the 2006 Commonwealth Games – tomorrow when the Eagles travel to face Glasgow Rocks.
This was a game of second versus third in the BBL ladder, with both sides in identical form having won 14 and lost four this season.
But the Eagles were off the back of beating rivals Leicester Riders in a hot-blooded affair at NU Sport Central a week ago.
And Flournoy was aware that in the space of three days, the Eagles’ hopes of reclaiming the BBL title were to be defined. It was Malik Cooke who took charge of the tie with more than 20 points, and the point-guard bagged the first on the board – a lead the Eagles would not surrender all game.
And Eagles veteran Charles Smith, who has been solid from the free-throw line so far this season with an above 90% average, continued his fine form – scoring five from six efforts.
The first quarter saw the Eagles storm into a 21-9 lead as the Sharks were a shadow of the side that previously beat Surrey Heat by 20 points.
The Eagles were on 30 in the second quarter by the time the Sharks reached double figures, but the first half ended with the home side ahead 36-22.
Despite being in close vicinity in the league, the sides had looked worlds apart on the court.
And that theme continued in the third quarter as the Sharks, in between moments of innovative plays, looked scrappy in offence.
That being said, the defence of the Eagles remained tight – restricting and frustrating their counterparts from Yorkshire – as the third quarter ran in 55-40.
The final quarter saw the Sharks stage a late surge on the Eagles, eventually getting to within seven of the home side on 61-54.
The Sharks kept creeping closer and threatening a late comeback, but the Eagles ensured they always held at least a five-point advantage.
The Sharks’ Michael Tuck had an opportunity to crank up the pressure with less than a minute on the clock, but the forward missed his two free-throws. And with that, the gap proved to be too much of an ask for the deflated Sharks as the game ended 69-59.
That was the first test of a crucial weekend for Flournoy, who will surely be more concerned with his side’s position in the table rather than his own feats.
But the Eagles head coach will look to make it four wins out of four as he makes his 541st appearance in Scotland against a side that sit fourth-bottom of the BBL ladder.