Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles Clinch Place in Decider

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles Clinch Place in Decider

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Newcastle toiled for most of last season in a bid to get the measure of fierce rivals and perennial champions Chester Jets.

Two months into the new campaign and the Eagles are by far the better team with their place in a third final of 2005 secured.

Last night's 95-68 win against the Jets enabled the men in black to book a December 4 berth in the BBL Cup decider, where London Towers await.

But a polished performance demonstrated more than Newcastle's new-found pre-eminence over a Chester side in transition and in turmoil.

The Eagles' second win of the weekend provided indisputable evidence that a side always destined to surpass last season's double-winning success is poised to explode before Christmas.

Fabulous Flournoy's men had warmed up for a show of their Sunday best with a bruising 89-73 win in Birmingham the previous night to claim joint leadership of the British Basketball League. And if Chester had hoped fatigue would affect their ambitious hosts, then it was a fresh and fearless Newcastle five which seized the advantage from tip-off.

That Darius Defoe featured prominently within that starting line-up confirmed the high esteem in which the returning Englishman is held on Tyneside. If the former Hackney forward is not yet ready for Bundesliga 2, then he is already a formidable opponent as a second-year BBL star.

Defoe was robust at both ends of the court ( gone was the tentative teenager who made a limited impact last season ( and it is to his credit that he kept out experienced team-mate John Bryant in a rotation designed to strangle Chester's offence.

The Eagles were 22-14 up after an impressive first period but the visitors, with guards Phillip Gilbert and Jamal Brown to the fore, played their part in an entertaining opening quarter. Newcastle are not renowned for fast starts this season but by the end of the half the home-court favourites were firmly in control. …

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