You felt a sense of déjà vu in Birmingham as Newcastle Eagles made it three BBL Cup wins in a row.
Led by Rahmon Fletcher’s 29 points, the Eagles defeated the Glasgow Rocks 91-83 in Birmingham on Sunday afternoon. Exactly like they did back in 2015.
And for the third straight occasion, Fletcher scooped MVP honours, saying afterwards that the latest award was the sweetest one.
“To be honest, this one feels better than the last couple that I had,” Fletcher said.
“I think we did a pretty good job besides that first spell when we went down 10-0 but I think our experience kicked in. Credit to Glasgow but I’m glad we got the win.”
Deandre Parks added 25 points for the Eagles, along with 17 for Scott Martin. Neil Watson had a team-high 28 for the Rocks.
The Eagles were able to recover from a dreadful start where they failed to score for the first four minutes and a three-pointer from Martin turned that 10-0 deficit into an 18-17 advantage with 2:21 remaining.
The Rocks, who began with such promise, making their open shots and driving efficiently to the basket soon found themselves doing the complete opposite in the second quarter. Only trailing 21-20 after one, Glasgow put Newcastle in foul trouble with only two minutes of the second period played but only forced one more foul for the remainder of that quarter as the Eagles found their stride.
Newcastle extended their lead thanks to a 9-0 burst with Orlan Jackman at the heart of everything at both ends. A nice step-back jumper from Great Britain international Kieron Achara broke the run but the momentum was firmly with the side from the north-east, and the half was capped off with a buzzer-beating triple from Parks to give his side a 50-32 cushion.
“In the second quarter we got complacent,” Achara said.
“We knew Newcastle were going to throw a punch and we were not ready for it. When we missed a shot, we just didn’t get back quick enough and Newcastle were able to score easy points and all of a sudden our good start came to nothing and at the half, we were down 18 points. We stuck with it, but it was too late.”
The Rocks, who have only won one domestic title since the club’s inception over in Edinburgh back in 1998 continued to struggle as they missed lay-ups and generally struggled to get any sort of play going with only Achara and Watson providing a constant offensive threat.
Newcastle were patient, offensively. Their defence was by no means suffocating but they let their offence do the talking. A quick 6-0 run, helped along by Fletcher put the Eagles firmly into the ascendency at 62-43, en route to a 72-49 lead after three.
Glasgow showed fight in the final period and a three from Watson with a little under four minutes left followed by a veteran fake and drive to the hoop by Achara brought the Scots back to within 77-66.
Suddenly, the momentum looked to be with Glasgow. A three from Hayden Lescault made it an 81-69 game and with under a minute left, they narrowed it down to single-digits, leaving the Eagles wobbling slightly, However, Newcastle had enough composure to see the game out.
“I’m just happy,” Eagles coach Fabulous Flournoy MBE said. “It’s difficult in certain situations with being a player-coach controlling your emotions and having enough emotions in the game as a player and also trying to control [as a coach]. We knew that we weren’t going to go away and equally the run that they made.
“If you look at the BBL, and if you look at the last couple of games that have been played like that with team that have been down. Up big early but at the end of the game they’re fighting an with the Cup final, I didn’t expect anything less.”