Treble shooters

Newcastle Eagles last night became only the third team in British basketball history to win three successive play-off championships.

Newcastle Eagles last night became only the third team in British basketball history to win three successive play-off championships.

Fab Flournoy's men romped to an impressive 95-82 win over their arch rivals Scottish Rocks in the showcase final played on their home court, roared on by a huge home support.

It was the perfect end to what has been a rocky season for the club as they produced two of their best performances of the season.

And that completed a Newcastle basketball double, with Team Northumbria having won the Division Two Play-Off Final on Saturday.

Having comfortably despatched Sheffield in the semi-final by 83-73, the Eagles were equally impressive against the Rocks in what was a repeat of last year's play-off final - so much so that the Scottish side never truly looked like winning the game.

Andrew Bridge was pivotal in the win, claiming 17 points and six rebounds off the bench, although he was pipped to the MVP award, as was Tony Dorsey who celebrated a fourth play-off win in five attempts with a double-double 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Londoner Babalola stole the show with an incredible display. Famed more for his defensive prowess, the powerhouse was sensational at the other end of the floor, sinking four three-pointers to top score with 23.

Bridge, meanwhile, claimed the victory was important not just for the players but the club in general, meaning everyone can now look forward to the feelgood factor coming back to the Arena.

"Everyone is going to have a real spring in their step all summer because of what we have achieved," he said. "Not just the players but all the backroom staff and the office staff - it is a great thing for the club.

"This will give everyone huge motivation going into next season and you can see it already in the faces of everyone that we are just so happy.

"Had we lost this weekend it might have had bigger consequences than just not winning anything this current season.

"I think that it would have made it quite difficult to pick ourselves up in the longer term.

"However we don't have to worry about that and we can be satisfied that we accomplished what we set out to do."

Having lost in the BBL Trophy final on their home court so miserably there can be little doubt that this was a major motivation for Fab Flournoy and his players.

And when club owner Paul Blake, in his capacity as BBL chairman, handed the play-off trophy to his player-coach, the embrace between the pair seemed to be one of sheer relief.

Whilst Rob Yanders and Sterling Davis excelled for the Rocks, the Eagles always looked to be in control after recovering from a sluggish start.

Certainly once the English trio of Bridge, Babalola and Defoe had come off the bench, the Eagles really began to take control.

Leading by three at the half, they extended their advantage to nine points going into the final quarter and never looked like losing their grip on a trophy that will be tucked nicely back into the cabinet for another 12 months.


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