NEWCASTLE ARE JUST CHAMPION

Newcastle Eagles have clinched the British Basketball League title for the seventh time in ten years.

Fab Flournoy’s men wrapped up the championship on Wednesday – putting themselves beyond the reach of runners-up Leicester Riders – with a 107-97 victory over Manchester Giants despite a flurry of injuries that left the Tyneside outfit with only seven fit players as they limped over the finishing line.

“These recent games started to look shaky from many standpoints, but the commitment from this special group was unbelievable,” said player-coach Fab Flournoy.

“When the final buzzer sounded it was indescribable. To have a run of winning as much as we have had over a 10 year period and to have more than 20 trophies is incredible.

“But we want to continue this legacy and all the team and the club wants to do now is to keep on winning.”

Having already landed the BBL Cup and Trophy earlier this season, Flournoy’s men could complete what would, statistically, be the second-best season ever in the domestic top flight if they polish off a clean sweep by lifting the Playoff title next month.

The Eagles have only lost three league games all year – all to Worcester Wolves – and would only trail the 37-2 mark of Kingston, set in 1990-91.

Paced by 27 points from Charles Smith, they led 62-51 at the end of a frenetic first half and then asserted their dominance over Manchester who will go into the final weekend in a two-way scrap with Bristol Flyers for the last play-off spot.

Flournoy, despite many accomplishments already, will know that this title will rank among his very best with a will to win and a strength in depth that marks this Newcastle squad out as a benchmark for others to follow.

“This success was a little bit different because we started off the season with not exactly a question mark, but when I said at the pre-season press conference that this team was potentially special and then we the lost opening game of season, it was interesting,” the New Yorker added.

“From that moment on, it seems like the guys were on a mission and I think we floated under the radar a lot this season in the early days.

“We discovered some incredible rhythm – we played together and it just felt right.

“We thought we were going to run away with it and then the injuries come and that is what the BBL is about – consistency. You also have to have talent and ride your luck.”

 

Main pic: Mansoor Ahmed

 

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