Reigning BBL Champions Newcastle Eagles started the season exactly as they finished it, top of the BBL Championship Table with wins over the Cheshire Jets on Friday evening, and a tight 86-90 win, north of the border, against perennial rivals, Glasgow Rocks, on Sunday.
The game was nip and tuck throughout, with a tough long ranger on the buzzer from Charles Smith giving the Eagles an 18-21 edge going into first quarter break. This continued into the second stanza, as the sides ended the first half with the Eagles shading a 42-40 score line. Newcastle managed to break away in the third, as they led 59-67 going into the final ten minutes, and held on, despite resurgence from the Rocks via new signing Jessie Sapp, to seal the four point victory.
Games between these two sides are always intense, and Eagles Player-Coach Fabulous Flournoy said he expected no different: 'The Rocks are a tough outfit, and the game was played in a rough fashion, as it always is between us and them. It always comes down to the wire, and it was down to Jessie Sapp having an extremely good second half, that they ran us so close.' It is clear that Flournoy highly rates the Rocks new signing, but he also had praise for both Rob Yanders and Sterling Davis. He added: 'As always, their team is based around Rob (Yanders) and he had a phenomenal game. I also thought that Sterling did a great job of balancing playing and coaching.'
Elsewhere on Sunday, a buzzer-beating three from Paul Peterson that after their disappointing 85-74 loss to the Eagles on Friday night, the Cheshire Jets grabbed a 78-77 win over Marshall MK Lions.
Saturday evening also proved to be an exciting one in the BBL as a new-look Worthing Thunder side beat the Airwaves Plymouth Raiders by 20 points (104-84) thanks to a fine spread of scoring, as Petroslav Zafirov (22 points) was supported by Ville Makalainen (19) and Reggie Bratton and Sherrad Prezzie-Blue both had 18. Another solid victory came for the Guildford Heat, who in their first game under player-coach Chad McKnight beat PAWS London Capital 65-95.
Meanwhile, in a repeat of last year's play off quarter final, the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders were victorious over the Sheffield Sharks, 113-93, thanks to 32 points from Bradd Wierzbicki and a triple-double of 19 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists from debutant Tack Minor. The Marshall MK Lions were also a happy side, as BBL stalwart Mike New led his side, who are still without Point Guard EJ Harrison, to a 94-81 win over Worcester Wolves at Bletchley Leisure Centre.