BBL basketball came to Durham as the new campaign gets under way, and although the hometown Wildcats found Newcastle Eagles too strong in an 88-66 defeat, it was a packed house at Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre as the battle of the north east sides was watched by 1200 people.

“Apart from the result, it was a brilliant night” said Wildcats’ coach Dave Elderkin. “The place was absolutely packed, the atmosphere was fantastic and we got lot of support from Durham University students, and the rugby team created a great atmosphere.

“It was really good fun, and I think the crowd appreciated the never-say-die attitude of the fans. We’ll get better, but everyone who came to game got to see some great basketball and had a free sauna as it as absolutely boiling in there!

“It was a tough game for us” admitted Elderkin. “Mario Flaherty’s international clearance didn’t come though in time and we’re without Paul Elderkin. They were really, really tough, but we didn’t play well in the first half.”

After a season without collecting any silverware, Eagles are clearly in no mood for a repeat, and prior to beating the Wildcats they had a strong final 15 minutes to defeat old rivals Glasgow Rocks 85-63 to take control of Group One.

It was a tough opening weekend for Guildford Heat in Group Four as they went down to a pair of defeats. Worcester Wolves needed overtime to win 93-87 on Saturday as coach Paul James chalked up a win against his old club, the pain continued for the Surrey club the following day as they Plymouth Raiders and let a 16 point first half lead slip as the visitors went home with a 95-91 victory.

Leicester Riders hold the advantage in Group Three as they held off a determined MK Lions to win 81-73 despite a 28 point haul from Lions’ Demarius Bolds.

With Mersey’s opener seemingly postponed until next Friday, Sheffield and Cheshire Jets met twice over the weekend, and it was the former who took control of Group Two with a pair of wins.

Atiba Lyons’ side won 66-62 at home on Friday night before a 21 point, 21 rebound double-double from Justin Dobbins helped them to a thrilling 86-84 win at Northgate Arena on Sunday. Great Britain’s Nate Reinking sunk the winning shot on Sunday to give the Sharks a quick-fire double.

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