Newcastle Eagles have completed the domestic clean sweep for the second time in four years with a 96-84 victory over London Lions in the BBL Playoff Final.

In the end, the brooms were out by the time the third quarter was even complete. Fuelled by 23 points and a MVP showing from Rahmon Fletcher, Fab Flournoy’s men gave their coach the end-of-season prize for the seventh time in his career and concluded a campaign in which they have been, almost incessantly, head and shoulders above their challengers.

London, aiming to impress a 14700 crowd at The 02, flattered when leading 24-14 in the opening quarter, and with Drew Sullivan grabbing 12 of his game-best 27 points in an early flurry. But they ultimately deceived.

With Zaire Taylor a non-factor, and the Eagles excellence in transition knocking their foes down, and then out, the league, Cup and Trophy victors took the vehicle of a 49-39 half-time lead and simply accelerated away.

A 7-0 run early in the third, orchestrated by Fletcher, took a wrecking ball to hometown hopes as a 74-55 cushion was claimed when Scott Martin drained an alley-oop as the buzzer rounded off the period.

And even amid patches of resistance, the silverware was all but already destined for a long celebratory journey north.

“It’s phenomenal,” said Flournoy. “At the risk of me sounding arrogant, I don’t want our achievement to be marginalised. Particularly this season, It was not an easy task, especially in building a team , teaching a team, growing a team. What goes in, for myself, is everything The people that I had around me and with me are doing the same thing.

“Over the past 10 years, I’ve won with lots of people, new people, different players. But the biggest thing is having everyone come and doing their part. The one thing that this team has done over the years has been sacrifices to help propel our team to where we’re at now.”


The New Yorker, 41, hobbling along the sidelines in a full ankle cast, willed his team on in spirit, even if the Achilles injury that might yet end his career would not let him leave his bench.

His future, as player and as coach, remains uncertain. His legacy is indisputable. Amid that initial adversity, a 12-0 run ensured Newcastle would never trail again. It had all the hallmarks of a Fabulous initiative.

And then even when Vince Macaulay’s side hit six unanswered points in the third period after they had fallen 62-44 behind, the additional response was ruthless and emphatic.

“At the end of the day we have veterans on our team who are very persistent so we stayed the course, took their first punch and got a punch of our own in,” Fletcher acknowledged.

Charles Smith, adding 24 points and a wealth of leadership, was everywhere in a two-handed snub to Father Time. Martin, even Drew Lasker and the returning Andre Jones off the bench, loomed large.

London were not quite at their level. Tradition matters.

“Consistency wins in any sport,” said Sullivan. “This is the second year the club’s been at the Copper Box. There hasn’t been a big core group who have a lot of experience or who have been at the club for many years. Look at Newcastle, they have Charles, Andy Thomson, Darius Defoe. So when new guys come in like Rahmon, Fab doesn’t have to do as much to get those guys into his philosophy which makes a massive difference.

“That’s not to take anything way from Fab. But when you bring guys like me and Zaire, and you have to teach other guys how to do it, you’re a bit behind the eight-ball. The guys worked hard and took on board what we said but if you have consistency. It gives you a good chance of winning.”

As a showpiece, it was not the toe-to-toe contest which would have maximised the benefits of the league’s brave gamble to bring their showpiece to the country’s finest arena.

Yet with the buzz generated by the preceding Hoops Aid, and the presence of an array of C-List celebrities plucked from reality television, it was a triumph in so many ways.

The greatest winner, fittingly, was Newcastle Eagles. As they say on Tyneside, they were just champion.


Twitter updatesStats


Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • Print

You must be logged in to post a comment Login