Newcastle Eagles lifted the BBL Cup in Birmingham with a destructive performance, sweeping Plymouth Raiders aside to claim a 115-94 victory. It could be the start of something special.

Charles Smith a game-high 39 points in the opening quarter as the Tyneside outfit lived up to their favourites billing, using an early 21-8 run to establish their dominance.

The Most Valuable Player of the game established a new Cup final scoring record and seemed unable to miss as the Raiders crumbled in their second appearance in the showpiece in three years.

“This was just one of those nights when I was feeling it and the ball kept going in,” said the American veteran, who had 21 in the first quarter alone. “We were keying on defence. But tonight was just my night.”

Ominously for the rest of the league, Newcastle looked a class above as they took the fight to Plymouth, their presumed strongest challengers, and landed blow after blow after blow.

And although they did not quite plunge the depth of their annihilation at the hands of Mersey Tigers in 2009, the Raiders looked dead and buried when they trailed 47-28 midway through the second quarter.

Some hope appeared when the Devon side closed the gap to nine but it just gave Newcastle even greater incentive. By half-time, their advantage was 63-46 and impregnable.

Paul Williams and Michael Ojo both fouled out on technicals in the second half as the Raiders frustrations grew. As the Eagles moved as much as 25 in front, Smith received an ovation when he went to the bench with three minutes left with the first leg of a potential four trophies this season secured.

“That’s always our target to win everything every year,” he said. “But now we have our hands on one. The taste is back.”

Fab Flournoy never lost his hunger. But he had felt drained by a season in which Newcastle, for seemingly the first time in an age, had gone over 18 months without bringing a fresh piece of silverware back to Tyneside.

He re-tooled in the off-season with Paul Gause and Andy Thomson and gambled on the fitness of Joe Chapman. All three were major contributors here.

But it was the non-retirement of Smith, months after he had signalled his intention to call time on his sparkling career, which proved the biggest asset as his team set a new benchmark for points scored in a Cup final.

“There was a lot of talk about him retiring,” Flournoy acknowledged. “I was asking him and he was saying: ‘I’m thinking about playing’. I just went: ‘Charles, say no more.’ And that was it.”

For almost 15 minutes, Smith had scored more individually than the entire Plymouth team put together. Flournoy wanted energy and hustle until the very end. Even when the game was done and dusted, his long-serving comrade threw himself all over the court.

“A lot of people often say about what Charles can’t do. All I see is what Charles can do. It was a great performance,” Flournoy declared.

“But it also reflects on our defence as a team. We got our assignments right. And that allowed us to get easy offense. That was the statement of the game. On offense, we played through Charles or when not him, through other guys.”

Lehmon Colbert led Plymouth with 25 points but Gavin Love’s men again lacked guile when it counted. Despite a deep roster, their skin looked thin. Questions can and should be asked about a strategy that was predicated on stopping the Eagles in transition but did nothing of the sort.

“We were just poor,” said Love. “They deserved it.”

Now Newcastle has one trophy, three are left up for grabs. Sitting top of the league, in another semi-final, who really would bet against them?

Not on this evidence. Not with Charles in Charge.

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