Profiting from a tradition in which to come second is to fail, Newcastle Eagles pulled away in the second half to see off Glasgow Rocks 84-71 and lift the BBL Cup in a gritty final at the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham.

Charles Smith rolled back the years to score a game-high 21 points with the league leaders, who led 40-29 at half-time, stamping their authority with an 8-0 burst in the third period before turning the screw with a ruthless determination that left their traditional foes wanting.

Help, along with drive, came from multiple sources. Rahmon Fletcher was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for the manner in which he glued together what was an imperfect but ultimately sufficient performance.

Andre Jones, who added 16, was efficient offensively while factoring large as Glasgow, unduly reliant on their outside shooting, were held to a disastrous 16.1% from three-point range. Drew Lasker and player-coach Fab Flournoy were energisers off the bench.

And then there was Smith, soon to pass through his 40th birthday, but adding the latest in a string of winners medals, one which atoned for the four runner-up souvenirs he had accumulated from the Eagles most recent trips to knockout finales.

“It feels good to be on the winning side,” the veteran said. “We’ve had some bad finals the last couple of years. Glasgow pushed us hard. We knew what we needed to do to win, which is keep them off the three-point line. I didn’t think they could make enough twos to beat us.”

The assumption was correct. The vanquished Rocks simply could not add depth and guile to the effort they expended. In the opening quarter, a 7-0 run saw Sterling Davis’ men edge ahead. If they sensed an upset, it was all too brief an aspiration.

Once Newcastle hit their stride with a 13-3 flurry in the second period, you feared the worst of all scenarios, annihilation, for a side who sit a lowly tenth in the league.

Yet as hostilities resumed, JaJuan Smith, the one-time Dallas Maverick guard, notched six of his team-high 17 points in a 12-2 flurry that had the Eagles, unexpectedly, feeling the heat, with Kieron Achara trading an earlier passiveness for aggression inside and out.

Almost inevitably came a response that was swift and sweeping, and carried Newcastle all the way to what they hope, and reasonably expect, to be a clean sweep of domestic silverware.

“Newcastle they did what they came out to do,” Achara, the Great Britain captain, acknowledged.

Eagles soared in second half (Mansoor Ahmed)

Eagles soared in second half (Mansoor Ahmed)

“They stopped us getting into the flow of the game, forced us into bad shots and punished us when we took them.”

Davis was visibly inconsolable. This was the seventh consecutive time that the Rocks have come off second-best in a showpiece, most under the watch of the 37-year-old Texan. His personal contribution on the floor could barely be faulted. There is some life in this old dog yet.

Wearing his other hat, questions were openly posed afterwards, about the chemistry he has created and cultivated, of the way in which Glasgow are much less than the sum of their parts, of how Tommy Freeman has decayed to a shell of the gunner who was so deadly in Worcester three seasons ago. An animated and lengthy discussion between Davis and Tayo Ogedengbe outside the locker room hinted at turmoil within.

“Newcastle are more defined in their roles, when to get the ball, where to get the ball to,” said Achara in what could be taken as a pointed critique of the cultural deficit which surrounds him. “Right now, we’re still trying to find out who should be the go-to guy, when to take the right shots and getting the ball at the right time.

“We went 5-for-31 from three-point range. You can’t win games that way. We have to find a way to slow the game down, to get the ball in the right places. You can’t pinpoint one guy, it’s a team thing. Fab’s got them well-drilled to get to the right spots. We’re still working to get there.”

Smith: captain marvel (Mansoor Ahmed)

Smith: captain marvel (Mansoor Ahmed)

In moments of crisis, in times of struggle, Newcastle can take strength from Flournoy’s ecosystem in which individual feeds team. Since he took charge, the Tyneside outfit have been largely omnipotent. Even in years when others have pushed back, the response from the New Yorker has been to raise the bar once more and dare the rest to elevate.

“Believe or not, this year’s team started at last year’s (playoff) final (when Newcastle lost to Worcester), when I had my head down looking at the stat sheet, about looking at what was going wrong, replaying the game back and trying to fix it in your head and trying to put things right,” Flournoy revealed.

“As soon as that happened, my first visit went to Charles and we talked about what we needed to do and the players that we needed. We had to get the coaching right and we went again.

“It’s always about finding the right person. In any sport, particularly ours, there’s always talent. But you have to find the right people, player, with talent. And equally you have to find the right players who are going to fit in.”

Davis, sitting alone in the hallway, had already begun a similar inquest as his long-time counterpart was reflecting on how his plans had come to fruition.

Their missions differ by so little. Here, however, their moods – and their teams – were separated by a gulf.

Box score

Earlier, Sheffield Hatters demolished Nottingham Wildcats 76-62 to claim the inaugural WBBL Trophy, paced by 27 points and 11 rebounds from the final’s MVP, Steph Gandy.

Nottingham trailed 36-25 at half-time and despite a game-best 30 points from Carmen Reynolds, they had no response.

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