The Cup Final, dissected. Plus a coming Force and Phoenix, enflamed.

Five takeaways from the BBL Cup final.

1. Newcastle Eagles are beatable. Let’s not read too much into Friday’s loss against Worcester and the close of a 19-game winning streak. Scott Martin got hurt early. The league leaders’ minds were a little distracted by their impending trip to Birmingham. And the Wolves played out of their skins.

Fab Flournoy’s side have to face Cheshire Phoenix twice, and Leicester Riders three times. Is the title race over? Not even close.

2. The Eagles are going for the quadruple. Especially after removing any doubt that they are fragile in knockout finals. Sure, against a better team than Glasgow, some of Newcastle’s lapses may have been punished. But there was a sense, especially in the second half, that the eventual victors only moved up into fourth gear with further upgrades available.

In past showdowns, said Charles Smith, “We just came up against some teams that wanted it more than us in the past. Our mission is to go out and win trophies, every year and the Cup is the first one. We come out, and we expect to win every trophy out there. This year’s no different.”

3. Glasgow need major surgery. There’s a softness about the Rocks (how ironic!), an attitude that needs some corrective action. Many of us witnessed Sterling Davis and Tayo Ogedengbe in animated debate outside the locker room afterwards before either had even showered. No bad thing, but a little late to be trading harsh truths.

Only Kieron Achara really had a decent game, and even then only in the second half when he stopped passing up open looks in favour of being the team fulcrum. Sometimes, you need to be the man. Others wilted.

4. The Rocks must sign Gareth Murray. The GB forward is a free agent and working out at the Emirates Arena. Interest from Cheshire has cooled. Bristol Flyers and Plymouth Raiders, the player’s representatives claim, have shown some interest. But Glasgow, his long-time club, would appear to have the right of first refusal despite offers from overseas.

With Davis requiring any available help, the ball, it is understood, is in the court of the team’s owner Ian Reid to free up the finance to bring the Scotsman home, following a brief but effective stay in France. With their bench off the map, an extra body would go a long long way.

5. The BBL needs a makeover of the Cup final. The ‘Barclaycard Arena’ from the outside looks miles better. The arena bowl could do with maxing out the credit card. The dunk act could barely make a bucket. We’ve seen it all before, but please never again.

However co-staging the WBBL Trophy final was a boon. It wasn’t a classic with Sheffield Hatters, as usual, stepping up but it sure beat an England Select against whoever-is-available as a warm-up act.

May the Force be with them

You should be impressed with Leeds Force. Less impactful in their debut BBL campaign in terms of wins and losses than co-rookies Bristol, there’s a real strategy in mind which will stand them in good stead.

Now standing apart from Leeds Carnegie University, it has been head coach Matt Newby and commercial manager Mark Mills – he of the late, lamented Dish n Swish website – who have driven matters forward on and off the court.

Attendances for the league’s bottom club, to this point, have hovered around the 300 mark, small beers, even in the BBL. “We’ve probably had to play too many games close together to make commercial sense,” Newby said. “But we hope the schedule will spread out more in the second part of the season to allow us to push that up to 450 or so.”

Devon van Oostrum’s was a useful cameo, although it was only ever supposed to be for two games (clearance delays held up a prior planned appearance, against Leicester). Another player might still be brought in. Additional work is planned in the off-season but the mission is on track.

“There’s been a lot of transition in the organisation but we’re not embarrassing ourselves on the court,” Newby added. “We’re working with a different budget and a different kind of arena than established clubs. It’s going to take some time but we’re thankful for the opportunity.”

Wolves go Balkan big

Worcester Wolves have filled out their front court with the addition of Serbian centre Dejan Radojevic.

The 25 year old started his career in Slovenia, winning the national Cup while with Union Olimpija, before moving to the lower tiers of the French League with Challans and Pays d’Onne.

“We have looked at many players in the past eight weeks,” said head coach Paul James. “And finally we have found a player who we believe will make a dynamic and effective contribution to our team.”

Subject to clearance, Radojevic is set to to make his debut against Bristol this week.

Radojevic should debut this week

Radojevic should debut this week

Dukes up at Cheshire

It wouldn’t be an Insider column without a Cheshire Phoenix tale, it seems. Despite some of the chaos off the court, you would think that their current streak of ten consecutive victories would lead to harmony off it, right?

But you’d be wrong. It’s understood Demond Watt and Taylor King got into a fight last Friday outside the locker room in Sheffield, following their win over the Sharks.

And it is, team sources confirm, neither the first, nor the second time that fists have been thrown by team-mates against one another this season.

It is also known that the recently-departed Julius Hodge got into a physical confrontation with chairman and chief sponsor Andrew Donaldson before the ex-NBAer took his leave, one which is alleged to have taken place inside a police station.

There is never a dull moment around the Nix, who are pushing through a visa application for a replacement for Hodge.

Outside shots

One handed lay-ups? Give Jordan Lee applause.

Kieron Achara inspired by his family’s own battles

13 things you didn’t know about Plymouth Raiders’ Jordan Clarke

BBL Insider appears every Tuesday on MVP

Main pic: Mansoor Ahmed

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