Newcastle Eagles and London Lions will square off in Sunday’s BBL Playoff final. 

A double day in prospect for both clubs to end the season in Leicester with the same duo set to meet in the WBBL Playoff final.

In an enthralling second leg of their BBL Playoff semi-final, London overturned a 12-point deficit from Tuesday’s opener to surge past Plymouth Raiders 100-80 – stamping their ticket with a 180-172 victory on aggregate.

Newcastle, similarly, also came from behind.

But having trailed by a single point coming in, the Eagles blew away league champions Leicester on their home court, procuring an 88-69 win which translated into 164-146 supremacy on aggregate.

A repeat on January’s Cup final, won by Newcastle, beckons.

But Ian Macleod’s men will be emboldened by their dominance second half showing.

Down 77-76 from the first leg, they drew precisely level on aggregate after leading 40-39 at half-time.

And the Tyneside outfit, paced by 27 points from the impeccable Rahmon Fletcher, surged away with a 12-2 run early in the third quarter and a 10-2 burst that concluded in the fourth providing the impetus to eventually propel them out of sight.

Darien Nelson-Henry led Leicester with 13 points but the Riders were left to rue converting just three of their 24 three-point attempts.

Plymouth, defending a 92-80 first leg cushion, fell away in the fourth quarter, unable to profit from the twin absences of Orlando Parker, who fouled out in the third, and Justin Robinson who went off soon after with an ankle injury and did not return after scoring 17 of his 20 points in they opening period.

Level at 53-53, the gap between the rivals kept increasing right to the finish. Outscored 27-17 in the fourth, Paul James sensed his side run out of steam.

As the Lions ran rampant, DeAndre Liggins was invaluable with 23 points. “Game 1 was disappointing on my part and I took it – I cried after the game,” the ex-NBAer admitted.

He was smiling this time with his influence pervasive in the response. “We wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth first and that’s what we did,” he added.

London’s coach Vince Macaulay revealed Robinson’s injury could be terminal for his campaign. “It’s very unlikely we’ll see him in the final,” he declared.

They’ll carry on with ambition. “We wanted to make every final,” Macaulay added. “We’re the only BBL team which has been in every game this season. We’re going to enjoy it.”

Rickey McGill paced Plymouth with 25 points. Raiders now enter an interesting off-season whether their future in their home city remains unclear.

They will know, however, that this was a chance lost with free throws missed and easy lay-ups squandered and foul trouble that proved painful. So too making a mere 6-24 from three-point range.

“With all the injuries we’ve had, we had a short rotation,” James said. “That was always going to become a factor and it did tonight.”

Photos: Ahmedphotos

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