British Basketball League champions Newcastle Eagles carried on where they left off as they opened the new campaign with a pair of wins.
Fabulous Flournoy’s team defeated old rivals Glasgow Rocks 72-65 on Friday evening in front a 2,400 crowd (their biggest opening night attendance for five years) before spoiling the party for London Lions with an 88-72 victory as Vince Macaulay’s team made their home debut at Crystal Palace, on Sunday.
Joe Chapman continued the form that saw him collect the MVP award for last season as he finished with 23 points and eight rebounds as Eagles did most of the damage in the middle two periods while on Sunday he scored 16.
“It was a good weekend for us” said Flournoy. “It’s always important to start the season well, and although there’s a lot of work still to do, I’m pleased with the start.”
Last season’s league and play-off runners-up Leicester Riders also started with a win as they defeated the Sheffield 71-55, with new big man Rob Fraley scoring 17 of his 23 points in the first half and captain Drew Sullivan adding 13.
BBL basketball returned to Manchester and a capacity crowd saw the Giants pick up a dramatic 85-84 win against the Lions. James Jones was imperious with 29 points for the north west side, while Mo Williams added 15 and David Watts 13.
Probably the biggest surprise of the weekend came at Worcester University on Saturday where the home-town Wolves were beaten 82-76 by last season’s basement side Durham Wildcats. The teams were tied at 67 midway through the fourth quarter when Andrew Keister’s three started an 8-0 tear to put the Wildcats into a lead they would never lose.
Saturday’s other game saw Sam Cricelli lead the way with 21 points as Surrey Heat made light work of Mersey Tigers to record a 106-45 victory.
Durham couldn’t make it a winning weekend, however, as Rocks bounced back from their loss at Newcastle with a 92-82 road victory. EJ Harrison and Gareth Murray led the scoring for the Rocks with 20 points apiece, while new signing Mike Baldarelli was the main man for the Wildcats for the second successive game as he netted a team-high 18 points.
Davis will now turn his attention to reinforcing his squad further during the two-week break before the Rocks opening tie at their new Commonwealth Arena home. He will hold further talks this week with representatives of the Great Britain internationalist Kieron Achara but other names are in the frame.
“I have a couple of guys in mind and I’d like to make a decision on who we might go for in the next day or two,” he confirmed. “I’ll be talking with Kieron’s agent to see if we can make something happen.”
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