Newcastle Eagles defeated the visiting Durham Wildcats 85-78 in the North-East derby on Friday night, but were made to work hard for their win.

Going into the fourth quarter 66-54 ahead, Newcastle seemed to be cruising, but then Durham stormed back to bring it to within three points with a minute left, leaving the Eagles fans to face a nervous finale.

Newcastle though held their nerve when it mattered and started the new BBL season with a win.

Darius Defoe led all scorers for the Eagles with 22 points with debutants Malik Cooke and Scott Martin both firing 18 points.

Danny Huffor got 17 points for Durham.

London Lions began life at the Copper Box Arena on the Olympic Park with a 80-75 win over Manchester Giants.

Like the Eagles though, London made it hard work for themselves also. They led by as many as 20 points and ended the third quarter 61-50 ahead until the Giants staged a fightback in the fourth.

The Lions though stood their ground to grind out an opening night victory.

Rod Brown and Joe Ikhiminwin both had 22 points to lead the Lions. Rob Marsden had 19 in reply for the Giants.

Sheffield Sharks completed the opening night trio of home wins with a 73-61 success over the Cheshire Phoenix.

Unlike the other two contests though, this was a relatively comfortable win for the Yorkshire side, who led 19-12 after the first ten minutes and then 28-16 in the early stages of the second. From there, they were never troubled.

Mike Tuck led Sheffield with 20 points while Masse Doumbe and Dominque Coleman both recorded 15 points for the visiting Phoenix.

Championship contenders send messages out on Saturday

Defending BBL champions Leicester Riders welcomed the BBL new boys Birmingham Knights to the league with a 90-56 win at a packed out John Sandford Sports Centre on Saturday night.

Brent Benson scored the Knights’ first points in the BBL in what was a tightly-contested first quarter. Riders edged it 26-20 and from there, the champions dominated proceedings. They held their midlands rivals to just seven points in the second period and never looked back.

Jay Couisnard led the Riders with 21 points with debutant Rassad Hassan adding 17. Benson led the Knights with a game-high 24.

Worcester Wolves got their season off to the perfect start with a comprehensive 117-60 rout of Surrey United.

Leading 6-0 in the early exchanges, Worcester were pegged back to 12-12 by an energetic Surrey outfit, but it didn’t last long.

The visiting Wolves side saw their lead shoot up to 93-43 after three quarters, leaving the fourth quarter to merely be played out.

Will Creekmore led all scorers with 34 points with Zaire Taylor scoring 29, beating Surrey’s entire total on their own.

Ignas Sijanas led Surrey with 18 points.

Three teams perfect from two games on Sunday

London Lions made it two wins from two over the weekend with a 79-70 success at the Plymouth Raiders. 

Rod Brown scored 21 points against his old side to lead the Lions to victory as they gave themselves clear breathing space over their opponents in the second quarter and never looked back. 

Matt Pressey hit 18 for the Raiders. 

Sheffield Sharks also made it two wins from two following a comfortable 71-57 win at the Manchester Giants. 

Mike Tuck was again inspirational for the Sharks, leading the way with 15 points in a balanced scoring attack. 

Rob Marsden led Manchester with 16 as Manchester drop to 0-2 so far. 

Newcastle sent a strong signal of intent as they thrashed Cheshire Phoenix 106-65 on the road. 

The game was never in doubt from the first quarter as the Eagles raced into a 34-9 lead, and from there the Phoenix were playing catch up. 

Paul Gause led Newcastle with 23 points, supported by Malik Cooke’s 21 points, as he went 9/9 from the field. 

Reggiel Middleton had 27 for the Phoenix.