The Newcastle Eagles, reigning BBL champions, have picked up where they left off after two wins on the opening weekend sees them top the BBL Championship table.
On Sunday they were victorious against big rivals the Glasgow Rocks, 86-90 north of the border. Former Rock Charles Smith led their scoring with 21 points, while Darius Defoe had a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds.
It was a close game throughout, but after a strong third quarter the Eagles established a double-digit lead in the fourth and they looked to have the game won with a 73-85 lead with three minutes remaining. However, the Rocks hit nine straight points to make it a one possession game at 82-85 with 1:28 left. But the Eagles withstood that charge with a triple from Smith, and Flournoy and Jackson each making 1/2 at the line within the last minute.
Elsewhere, the Cheshire Jets bounced back from opening night disappointment to beat the Marshall MK Lions 78-77 with a three-pointer from Paul Peterson on the buzzer, leaving their new point guard "speechless" on his home debut.
The Jets had looked comfortable going into the fourth quarter leading 66-53. However, the Lions opened the period with a massive 15-2 surge, which included three of Yorick Williams' eight three-pointers on the night, and they went on to take the lead as they were one point up with 3 seconds remaining.
The Jets got the ball inbounds to Peterson and he connected with the game-winning three-pointer from in front of the Lions' bench.
Cheshire Jets 78-77 Marshall MK Lions
Cheshire Jets 78 (20,48,66) (Marks 25, Phifer 14, Myers 11)
Marshall MK Lions 77 (16,39,53) (Williams 30, Youngblood 11, Holmes 10)
The Cheshire Jets bounced back from opening night defeat to overcome the Marshall MK Lions by 78-77 with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Paul Peterson as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Chez Marks led their scoring with 25 points, while Frank Phifer had 14. Yorick Williams led all scorers for the Lions with 30 points, including eight three- pointers, after not missing a shot until the fourth quarter. When asked to comment at the end of the game, Peterson said, "I'm speechless."
The Jets held an early lead and steadily increased it throughout the first three quarters: 20-16 at the end of the first, 48-39 at the half, and they took a 66-53 lead into the decisive period.
The Lions opened the fourth with a 15-2 burst in the first six minutes, which included a trio of threes from Williams as they restricted the Jets to just two free- throws in that time. That saw the teams tied at 68. Jets scored through Myers and O'Reilly before Williams missed two free-throws, his first missed shots of the game, and the teams entered the last two minutes with the Jets up 72-68.
Trips to the line for Williams and Robert Youngblood meant the Lions tied the game at 72 with less than a minute remaining. With 18 seconds left, James Hamilton received a technical foul and Mike New gave the Lions the lead with 2/2 free-throws, a feat which he repeated after being fouled moments later for a 72-76 lead. With 6 seconds left Marks made a three-pointer, before the Jets fouled Williams. He made 1/2 to make it 75-77 with 3 seconds to go. The Jets got the ball inbounds to Peterson and, from in front of the Lions' bench, he connected with the buzzer-beating triple that won the game.
Glasgow Rocks 86-90 Newcastle Eagles
Glasgow Rocks 86 (18,40,59) (Sapp 26, Yanders 21, Davis 13)
Newcastle Eagles 90 (21,42,67) (Smith 21, Jackson 19, Defoe 18)
The Newcastle Eagles defeated rivals the Glasgow Rocks by 86-90 to round off the opening weekend of the BBL season precisely where they ended last season: atop the BBL Championship table.
The Eagles were led by 21 points from Charles Smith, a former Rock, 19 points from Reggie Jackson and a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds for Darius Defoe. The Rocks were inspired by good guard play from Jessie Sapp, with 26 points and 7 assists, and Rob Yanders, with 21 points and 9 assists.
The Rocks had a fast start to the game as back-to- back three-pointers from Sterling Davis and Steve Parillon made the score 8-3. However, the visitors held them scoreless for the next four minutes and took the lead at 8-9 on a Defoe score. After the Rocks regained the lead, Andrew Bridge hit five straight points to see Newcastle into an 11-14 lead. Within the final minute Davis tied the game at 18 with a triple, only for Charles Smith to connect from long range on the buzzer for an 18-21 Newcastle edge.
Still the teams could hardly be separated in a second stanza during which they were tied three times, despite the Eagles gaining an early five-point lead as Fab Flournoy opened the period. The Rocks tied at 27 after Sapp made a three-pointer and Yanders scored. Bridge and Yanders then exchanged triples, before the Rocks took the lead at 33-32 after a further three- pointer from Murray. The final four minutes of the half saw seven lead changes and, after scoring his team's last seven points in the first quarter, Charles Smith scored the last six points for his team in this quarter, including an old-fashioned three-point play with 4 seconds left to see them lead 40-42 going into the dressing rooms.
The reigning champions made a move in the third quarter as an early 8-0 run gave them a 46-52 lead and a further five straight points made it 49-57, with Reggie Jackson scoring nine points in the first five minutes. The Rocks hung on with triples from Sapp and Davis but a further four points each from Jackson and Defoe kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Eagles and they led 59-67 going into the decisive stanza.
The Rocks came storming back early in the fourth, despite Jackson hitting five early points to give the Eagles their first double-digit lead. Murray's three- point play sparked a 9-2 run, capped by back-to-back baskets from Sapp, that brought the Rocks back into the game at 70-74 with six minutes to play. The Eagles responded with an 11-3 burst, including five more for Smith and looked to have the game won at 73-85 with three minutes on the clock. However, there was one last stand from the Rocks as five more points from Sapp in a 9-0 run made it a one possession game at 82-85 with 1:28 remaining. But the Eagles withstood that charge with a triple from Smith and Flournoy and Jackson each making 1/2 at the line within the last minute.
BBL Championship Table
P W L Pts
1 Newcastle Eagles 2 2 0 4
2= Guildford Heat 1 1 0 2
2= Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders 1 1 0 2
2= Worthing Thunder 1 1 0 2
5= Cheshire Jets 2 1 1 2
5= Marshall MK Lions 2 1 1 2
7= Everton Tigers 0 0 0 0
7= Essex Pirates 0 0 0 0
9= Glasgow Rocks 1 0 1 0
9= PAWS London Capital 1 0 1 0
9= Airwaves Plymouth Raiders 1 0 1 0
9= Sheffield Sharks 1 0 1 0
9= Worcester Wolves 1 0 1 0