Newcastle Eagles 95 London Lions 67
Newcastle Eagles produced a devastating second-half display to overpower London Lions and maintain their championship at the top of the BBL table.
On a night when Newcastle scored a bucketful of points, especially in that second 20 minutes, it was once again their defence that was the key to the leaders’ win. They restricted London to a miserly 27 points in the final two quarters while pouring in 48 of their own.
Head coach Fab Flournoy (pictured right) preaches that good defence leads to effective offence and s his men came up with stop after stop which then turned into easy transition scores at the other end.
Darius Defoe, who has been slowly coming back from injury, was back somewhere near his dominating best as he led the scoring alongside Malik Cooke.
Defoe also added 11 rebounds for an excellent double-double while Cooke’s series of third quarter breakaway dunks were a real highlight.
In the first half Eagles struggled early to shake off Lions and it looked like being a tight game until at 12-12 Eagles suddenly produced a 15-0 burst that exploded the game open and looked like making it plain sailing the rest of the night.
Perhaps after so many tough games Eagles thought it was going to be too easy as they switched off too early and allowed Lions back in the game. And it was Newcastle’s lack of focus that allowed that to happen.
Somehow Lions got back within two points and Eagles’ problems were compounded by Paul Gause missing a succession of free-throws to keep the game close. But at least the Eagles finished the half the stronger with a late run which gave them a 47- 40 lead.
But it was all about the second-half performance and with wily veterans Flournoy and Captain Charles Smith anchoring the defence the rest of the team found their offensive spots and shooting boots to take full advantage.
Eagles completely shut down the opposition and at one stage even cruised to a 32-point lead as they showed exactly why they are top of the BBL title. Only Chez Marks from Lions seemed to put up any resistance as their whole side struggled to match the talent and ability of the home side.
With the game nicely in the bag it was then about conserving energy. Newcastle take their title bandwagon to Glasgow tomorrow for another tough game on the road which they must win.
If they bring their second half performance and form then it could be another fabulous winning weekend for the Eagles.
NEWCASTLE: Malik Cooke 20, Darius Defoe 20, Paul Gause 15, Scott Martin 15
LONDON: Chez Marks 23, Michael Martin 9, Joe Ikhinmwin 8