Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles Cement Top Spot Basket Ball

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles Cement Top Spot Basket Ball

Article excerpt

Birmingham Panthers 59

Newcastle Eagles 104

NEWCASTLE Eagles kept their momentum going at the top of the BBL Championship with a clinical demolition of bottom-of-the-table Birmingham, writes JEFF KING.

Although this was a game Fab Flournoy's men were expected to win, the message to the rest of the league is that the Eagles went about business in the right way.

The game was played in Telford as cashstricken Birmingham look to expand their fan base and consolidate their place in the BBL. Quite how they can do that after a performance like this is anybody's guess but that's of no concern to Newcastle, who stay focused on their quest for silverware.

There was confusion at the end of the game as the official scoresheet showed the score as 104-59, while the sheet produced by the statistician had it 102-69!

However, no matter what score is finally submitted it is two more points in the Championship bag for Newcastle.

Flournoy had granted Will Spragg time off to play for his local club and Aaron Nielson was also missing as he was on duty for injury-hit Team Northumbria.

With Sam Attah still not fit, it was a very experienced Eagles line-up that started.

Jeremy Hyatt was also not risked as he continues his comeback from injury.

The Eagles then lost Olu Babalola (pictured above) early in the first quarter with an ankle injury and, although it was not serious, the way the game went he was not risked further and sat out the remainder of the contest.

The Eagles ran with a seven-man rotation throughout and they all contributed greatly to the win with six of them reaching double figure scores. The only Eagles player, other than Babalola, not in double figures was Flournoy, who concentrated on orchestrating his team's efforts on and off the court.

In-form Charles Smith led the way with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Lynard Stewart had a 'double double' of 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Young forward Darius Defoe had 19 points and eight rebounds, while newcomer Steve Leven continued his fine start to his Eagles career with 19 points.

The game was effectively over by half time as the Panthers, without play-maker Rob Paternostro, struggled to maintain pace with the Eagles' fierce start. …

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