EAGLES MAKE IT THREE TIMES THE CHARM
- Updated: January 15, 2017
Newcastle Eagles made it a hat-trick of BBL Cup triumphs by beating Glasgow Rocks 91-83 in Birmingham.
Deja vue all over again.
Sterling Davis’ men looked capable of breaking a run of eight defeats in major finals, including in this competition to the same opponents in 2015, when they surged into a 10-0 lead. But it was the falsest of dawns.
Rahmon Fletcher – who ended with a game-high 29 points – led Newcastle on a second quarter tsunami, shifting the momentum for good with a 13-1 run before another spurt of ten unanswered points sent the holders 50-32 clear at half-time.
The margin kept increasing, to as much as 72-49 at the end of the third period, before a 12-2 start to the fourth from Glasgow injected a little respectability as they eventually pulled within seven off a Neil Watson three-pointer with 33 seconds left.
It took the American’s tally to 28 points. But hot enough, and far too late, as their ninth consecutive loss in a major final became an inevitability as Newcastle reeled off an 18th successive win over their cross-border rivals.
“The biggest thing is that we locked in on defensive rebounds and defence,” said Fletcher who took a third straight Cup final MVP award.
“And everyone knows our defence links into our offence. And I think that other than that first period, we did a good job. Credit to Glasgow but I’m glad we got the win.”
Watson was up and running with two three-pointers in a 10-0 start before Fletcher got the Eagles going with seven points to close within a point.
Another triple from Watson followed as the duel continued with both players up to nine points by the end of the first with the Rocks up by one.
The Eagles went on 13-1 run as Fletcher moved to 15 points to help the Eagles open up a nine-point gap.
The advantage doubled as Newcastle closed the half with a 10-0 run including a corner three from Drew Lasker and a pull-up triple from Deondre Parks before the buzzer.
Gareth Murray netted back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third, but the Eagles went on another run to further increase their lead with Scott Martin making it a 20-point game.
Parks ended the third with another triple to make it 72-49 with the Eagles already seemingly out of reach.
“I thought it boiled down to not being able to live with Newcastle’s runs,” said Rocks coach Sterling Davis. “I think that’s what they really thrive off. They were able to take us out of the rhythm of what we wanted to do. We really try to pride ourselves on defence and have done throughout the course of this year. I didn’t like the score at half-time – giving up 50.
“Anytime you do that – especially against Newcastle – it means we’re not defending the way we should and how we’ve been accustomed to defending. Those runs will hurt you down the stretch. Once again, I credit my guys for not giving up and trying to extend it for as long as possible. But the deficit we built ourselves was hard to come back from.”