HEAT DEAL EAGLES A HUGE TITLE BLOW

Fab Flournoy 568Title race over? Not quite. But Newcastle Eagles face a massive battle to make up lost ground on rivals Leicester after a stunning 100-94 to defeat Surrey Heat. 

It leaves the defending champions with two more losses than the Riders with a month of the season left but they could barely have expected their hopes to be damaged by a Heat side which had won only once in its last six games.

The visitors looked set to embarrass Fab Flournoy’s men when they took a 76-56 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter.

Newcastle, fighting to save their championship, swung back. A 23-6 run brought them to within three when Damon Huffman converted a pair from the line with 5:13 to go.

It got even more tense when Charles Smith – who ended with a game-high 31 points – grabbed a rebound and went up court to finish inside to cut the gap to 84-83. That was as good as it got.

Julius Joseph responded with a three-pointer to begin a 10-1 run for Surrey that finally broke the Eagles resistance.

The question is now whether their hopes of overhauling Leicester are similarly ruined.

Travis Holmes had a team-best 19 for the Heat.

Durham Wildcats inflicted a 29th consecutive loss on Mersey Tigers to keep their own play-off hopes intact with a 87-76 victory in Liverpool despite a game-high 21 points from Phil Wait.

The visitors pulled out a 22-3 burst in the first half to rip the league’s bottom team to shreds and they held firm despite a late rally.

Worcester Wolves remain on track for a top-four finish after hammering London Lions 94-76  in a game delayed by the late arrival of the capital outfit.

Stan Ocitti had 23 points and 19 rebounds for the hosts who pulled as much as 29 clear with a 21-9 flurry in the third quarter.

Sunday: Worcester let rip

Kai Williams returned to haunt his former club as the Wolves crushed Cheshire Phoenix 121-90 at Northgate Arena. Williams was on fire and torched his ex-employers for 29 points with an excellent performance, which witnessed the guard also take seven rebounds. A blistering start to the contest saw Wolves open up a quick-fire double-digit lead and they had more than doubled the tally of their hosts after ten minutes, when they moved 25-12 ahead as they set up an eighth straight BBL Championship win.

Finally, Durham Wildcats kept their chances of securing a play-off berth alive thanks to a hard-fought 87-76 victory over the Mersey Tigers at Knowsley Leisure and Culture Park on Friday night. Andrew Keister led the scoring for the Wildcats with 18 points, but it was Phil Wait who led all scorers in the game as he netted 21 points for the Tigers, but it was not enough to stop them slipping to their 31st successive defeat.

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