Newcastle Eagles have won the BBL Cup for the seventh time after prevailing over London Lions 84-77 in one of the most dramatic finals in the history of the competition, live on Sky Sports.
It is the fifth time Eagles have won the Cup in the last decade – although their first since 2017, up to which point they had won three in a row – after coming from behind at the death to secure a second piece of silverware already in Ian Macleod’s tenure as Head Coach.
Eagles had led by as many as 15 points as Justin Gordon and Rahmon Fletcher scored 14 each in the first half, when a 10-1 push over the first quarter break and an 8-2 burst in the second stanza made it 40-28 three minutes before the break.
However – despite playing the game with just seven players as the rest of the squad had to self-isolate under COVID-19 protocols – Lions mounted a brave second half comeback. A scintillating 16-2 third quarter run got them back within one, and they followed that with a 19-7 surge in the fourth quarter to snatch a 76-69 lead with four minutes to play as Justin Robinson, Orlando Parker and Kevin Ware, twice, hit big triples.
But the Eagles proved incredibly resilient to halt that momentum as, from there, they burst out of a timeout to score 12 straight points when a corner three from Gordon tied the game, before Louis Sayers did the same from the opposite corner to give Newcastle the lead for good at 79-76 with two minutes to play.
It was a nervy finish until, with 30 seconds remaining, Gordon dragged down a huge offensive rebound – his 15th board of the game, a Cup Final record – enabling Fletcher to make a big score inside the paint that made it a two possession game at 81-76 and settled the tie.
The MVP award went to Justin Gordon as he finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three blocks, while Rahmon Fletcher led the scoring with 21 points.
Prior to that, also live on Sky Sports, Leicester Riders made it three BBL Championship wins on the bounce with a 90-58 defeat of Glasgow Rocks behind 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists from Corey Johnson.
The hosts scored 20 straight points in the first quarter to dominate from the outset, Zach Jackson hitting 10 in that spell; and followed that with a 9-0 opening to the second stanza, before holding Rocks to just eight in that period, for 48-22 at the half and no way back for the visitors.
The Manchester Giants pick up their third consecutive BBL Championship victory following a 14 point win against the struggling Surrey Scorchers on Saturday.
Breaon Brady led for the Giants with a double-double, with 20 points and twelve rebounds, and Sam Cassell Jr added 19 points as well as seven assists.
David Ulph added some important protection at the back for the Giants, as he managed to grab eleven rebounds and an impressive three blocks to go along with his nine points.
The game was in the balance at the half way stage, with the Scorchers leading by three, but the Giants managed to grab the second half by the scruff of the neck, and punished the Scorchers shooting struggles.
Connor Cashaw shone for Surrey, making seven of his ten shots for 20 points, but this wasn’t enough for the Southern side, as the team shot just 36% overall from the field.
Lovell Cook was the only other player to get into double figures for the Scorchers, as he provided eleven points and seven rebounds, but the side remains rooted to the bottom of the BBL Championship table.
The Plymouth Raiders kickstarted the 2021 BBL Trophy with a hard fought win in Sheffield despite a spirited final quarter comeback from the Sharks on Friday.
The Raiders grinded out a 63-69 victory despite running out to a 16-point lead by the final quarter, as a 20-5 Sharks run saw the Plymouth lead cut to as little as three points.
This year’s knockout format brings with it some extra incentive for the teams taking the floor each night, and Friday’s action did not disappoint in an enthralling encounter.
A tight opening period saw very little to choose between the sides as Plymouth edged the tough opening phases.
However a strong end to the half from the Raiders capped by five quick points from Will Neighbour saw the Raiders place some daylight between the sides.
Neighbour ended the game with a game high 19 points, and alongside a double-double from Ashley Hamilton the pair thrusted the Raiders into a dominant lead by the fourth and final quarter.
A buoyed Sharks side came out flying in the final 10 minutes, and led by Jeremy Hemsley’s 17 points cut Sheffield managed to cut the Plymouth lead to three points with just over a minute remaining.
A crucial late steal from Ricky McGill and smart game management from Plymouth saw the Raiders close out an enthralling game of Friday night basketball, and advance to the second round of the 2021 BBL Trophy.