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Newcastle Eagles Win BBL Cup Final

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Eagles reap rewards at first BBL Final of the season

 

Newcastle Eagles Win BBL Cup Final

British Basketball’s first final of 2021 took place on Sunday January 24th with the top two teams in the British Basketball League table London Lions and Newcastle Eagles contesting the final. London remain the BBL Champions from 2018-19 after the cancellation of the following year’s league season. The cup competitions were played after the first lockdown and Newcastle became the BBL Trophy holders. The win gave Head Coach Ian MacLeod, who took over in 2019, his first trophy.

Both teams progressed through the group and knockout stages to reach the BBL Cup Final. London last won the trophy in 2019 and Newcastle in 2017. Newcastle have won the trophy 5 times since the cup began in 2003, whilst the Lions have won the competition both times they have appeared in the final, once as Milton Keynes and once as London.

In the first group stage London and Newcastle were drawn in the same group and finished in the top two positions qualifying for the knockout stage. In the semi finals Manchester Giants forfeited their semi-final against London Lions whilst the Newcastle Eagles defeated Leicester Riders 71-76. Heavy rain and fears of closed roads due to flooding saw the venue for the final changed from Worcester to Leicester a couple of days before the game.

London Lions had a depleted roster as 6 of their players tested positive for Covid-19 this week which meant that coach and owner Vince Razaq was only able to dress 7 players. The absentees included former Orlando Magic NBA second round draft pick DeAndre Liggins who played 177 NBA games with 7 teams before coming to London. The Lions also announced they would forfeit their participation in the Fiba Europe Cup which is to take place this week.

 

First half action

In the first quarter Newcastle cruised to a 3 point lead and a 21-18 score line, continuing to dominate in the second quarter leading by as many as 15 points and 11 points at the half, 46-35. Several of the Lions players got into early foul trouble which compounded their personnel problems.

 

An exciting comeback from London

In the third quarter the London Lions began to pressure the Newcastle team into more turnovers and closed the deficit to 5 points, making it 62-57 by the end of the quarter. Dirk Williams scored back to back baskets with a three point effort and a dunk.

In the 4th quarter with less than 8 minutes left, London took the lead for the first time since the first quarter. The London players began to find their range from the three point line and with 5.33 to go London were 4 points ahead, prompting Newcastle to call a timeout. In the next minute London extended their lead to 7 points before another timeout was called.

 

Newcastle close out the win in BBL Cup final

A series of London turnovers helped Newcastle pull level at 76 points each and with three minutes to go the scores were tied. Louis Sayers scored a three pointer for Newcastle to take the lead.

Orlando Parker failed with a three point effort for London to tie the scores, before another timeout with one minute and 21 seconds to go and Newcastle leading 79-76. An amazing Justin Gordon rebound led to a Rahmon Fletcher basket making it a 5 point game with 31.8 seconds left.

Josh Ward-Hibbert was only able to reduce the deficit by one point from the free-throw line. Justin Robinson fouled Evan Maxwell with 22.2 seconds left and Maxwell scored both attempts from the free-throw line. Ramon Fletcher scored one of his two from the line and Newcastle led by 7. The Lions were unable to score in the closing seconds and time expired for a Newcastle win 84-77.

 

Leading players

Newcastle’s Justin Gordon was announced as the MVP for his 15 rebounds  and 17 points. The first time a player had collected 15 rebounds in a BBL Cup Final. Rahmon Fletcher scored 21 points to lead the Eagles in scoring and Evan Maxwell also had 17 points. Fletcher previously won the MVP award in each of this three BBL Cup final appearances. For the Lions Dirk Williams  scored 19 points and was followed by Justin Robinson with 17.

 

Newcastle win record 26th trophy

The BBL Cup is the 26th trophy the Newcastle Eagles have won in their history, extending their own BBL record. Newcastle forward Darius Defoe is the BBL’s most decorated played and has won all 26 trophies with the Club after joining in 2005.  The 36 year old Londoner has played his entire senior basketball career with the Eagles and is the team’s all time leader in rebounds.

 

We hope you enjoyed this article ‘Newcastle Eagles Win BBL Cup Final’. Are you an Eagles or Lions fan? How do you think your team played? Who will win the big prize in British Basketball this season? Let us know!

 

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I enjoy watching and writing about sport. In the sport of Athletics I’m a runner, a coach and a million other things. I'm the race organiser of the Aykley Heads Cross Country in Durham City and another couple of events. I follow the NHL and NFL. Closer to home I support Durham County Cricket Club and Sunderland A.F.C. My photograph is a smiling Mark on a fabulous day for a run at the top of Dale Head in the Lake District.

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