Newcastle Eagles completed a domestic sweep as they defeated Leicester Riders 71-62 in the British Basketball League play-off final in Birmingham.
Like he did in January when Eagles lifted the BBL Cup, Charles Smith led Newcastle with 21 points as Leicester couldn’t find an answer for him.
Guard Paul Gause added 13 points for the Eagles while Andrew Sullivan scored 18 to lead the Riders.
“This group just had a point to prove all season because of what we’ve gone through,” Newcastle coach Fab Flournoy said afterwards. ” It became important to us to establish ourselves again as a dominant team. In the years we did it before, we were young, we were talented.
“We knew we were good and we wanted to show it. This season, we did a lot of preparation and a lot of planning but there’s a lot of old legs. But we did it.”
It started out horribly though for coach Flournoy’s men, as Leicester started aggessively, targeting BBL MVP Joe Chapman, who had to sit early due to foul trouble. A Sullivan dunk in transition gave Riders a 17-12 lead which forced Newcastle’s assistant coach Dave Forrester to call a timeout.
Riders would go on to lead 21-12 after one, but Eagles came storming back in true champion-style fashion. Scoring in various scrappy ways and they managed to tie the game at 31 at the half, as Leicester struggled to match Eagles’ intensity inside.
The league champions then moved up the gears in the third to take the lead after scoring the first six points of the quarter and keep Riders at bay to claim their fourth bit of silverware to bring the BBL season to a close.