MAN of the moment Kareem Maddox helped Newcastle Eagles sign off their calendar year in style after posting a sublime and picture perfect performance in the BBL Trophy derby success at Durham Wildcats.
Simply phenomenal since the start of November and having deservedly scooped the BBL Player of the Month accolade, he now looks nailed-on to land successive awards when the December gongs are handed out this week.
Maddox finished with his customary double-double, accumulating 19 points and 15 rebounds to cut down the Wildcats, although it was the fact he was a flawless nine of nine at the basket which really caught the eye.
Heading into 2013, Fab Flournoy and Dave Forrester can be hugely satisfied not only with their American star, but also with his frontcourt partner Darius Defoe, as the Londoner continues to enjoy one of his most consistent and impressive campaigns of his lengthy Eagles career.
Whilst unsurprisingly in the shadow of Maddox, his numbers are also excellent and an efficient 22 points made it a nightmare afternoon for Durham under the hoop, where they were simply overwhelmed with the superior strength and athleticism of their local rivals.
Wildcats’ head coach Dave Elderkin didn’t need any more to worry about in the forward spots than he already had with Maddox and Defoe, but he was handed a further headache when Charles Smith finally made a return to action after recovering from a calf injury.
Perhaps with the pending BBL Cup Final in mind, the Eagles decided to ease the veteran back into things.
And, whilst understandably a little rusty, seeing Smith back on the floor handed the huge away following another reason to be confident when they head to the National Indoor Arena for their showpiece final in a couple of weeks.
The Eagles were never in any kind of trouble whatsoever in this match-up after wowing the full house at Newton Aycliffe with a scorching 26-12 start, which left the hosts reeling and perhaps thinking more in terms of damage limitation rather than any genuine ambitions of winning the game.
Scoring almost at will through their big men at the hoop, the Eagles were rampant and extended their advantage to 48-30 at the half-time break, with the most worrying aspect for the Wildcats very much the fact that the BBL Trophy holders were nowhere near top gear.
It was certainly a powerful way for the Eagles to start their defence of this trophy, and while Durham did manage to find some momentum in the third quarter with a 15-5 run, it barely caused a ripple in the context of a one-sided game.
The Eagles remained unflappable and just bided their time before sailing away again after outscoring their opponents 30-17 in the final period, to very much underline the gulf in both quality and depth between the teams.
Joe Chapman impressed in the backcourt with a 22-point haul, whilst Fab Flournoy sat this one out and will have enjoyed wrapping up the action of another glorious year in typically wonderful style.
DURHAM: Baldarelli 27,Bucci 14, Keister 14
NEWCASTLE: Defoe 22, Chapman 22, Maddox 19