All it took was five minutes of the second quarter and the Newcastle Eagles knew the title was heading back up north.
A 22-0 run that started from the first quarter to the mid-way point of the second allowed the Newcastle Eagles to pull away and claim their sixth BBL championship in nine years, as they romped to a 106-58 win at Surrey United on Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles were sloppy to begin with, as they trailed Surrey 12-9 thanks to a bucket from Nick Freer but Eagles responded with a Darius Defoe slam that began the winning run that led them to glory.
From there, it was a case of the Newcastle players and fans waiting until the final buzzer sounded.
Malik Cooke and Paul Gause led the Eagles with 23 points each, with the latter being the driving force behind Newcastle 22-0 burst. He came on shortly after Surrey took the lead in the first quarter then Gause took control. His energy and speed was too much for Surrey to handle.
“I like to play quick, so when I push the ball being the point guard, my team-mates have to follow my lead,” Gause said with a smile.
“I was put on to give the guys some energy. We started a little slowly and we were not making shots that we should be doing. I’m not saying it was all me here though. The team knew that they were not getting the job done right away and we fixed it without having to call a timeout. Once we found our rhythm on the court, we knew Surrey couldn’t contain us.”
For the majority of the game, it was men against boys. The gulf in class obvious and it seemed that everyone was against Surrey United. There were one or two fans of the old Guildford Heat franchise in attendance that supported the Eagles and even the match day commentator starting announcing Newcastle the ‘BBL champions’ mid-way through the third quarter.
“Everyone was predicting two easy wins for us this weekend, but we could have made any kind of mistakes this weekend, so it was on us to perform as we do with the mentality that we have shown throughout this season and get the job done,” Eagles coach Fabulous Flournoy said.
“We didn’t perform at our best the previous night against Birmingham but we got the win. Tonight, while Paul Gause was a key factor in our run in the second. I got to give a lot of credit to the whole team for the way they responded to Paul’s energy. They fed of him and played as a team. It was great basketball to watch.”
Newcastle built up an uncatchable 87-34 cushion after three quarters of play and it was time to bring on Eagles junior Eddie Matthew. For nearly two periods, the large travelling Eagles contingent had been calling for Matthew to come on for his cameo appearance and when he did, it was a question of when will he score?
Rather fittingly, it was Matthew who brought up the 100 for Newcastle with an open three-pointer from near the top of the key. The moment that dropped, the Eagles fans made their way down to the front row of seats.
They had waited for this moment in reality since half-time. The game was over by then.
And when the buzzer sounded, the fans ran towards the players, the BBL championship was brought down. It was party time.