Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles Back to Winning Ways but Cracks Are Still Evident

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles Back to Winning Ways but Cracks Are Still Evident

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Rushworth

NEWCASTLE EAGLES 114 LEEDS FORCE 73 THE BBL fixture list can rarely have been kinder to Newcastle Eagles.

As the under-pressure hosts sought to arrest a three-game Sport Central losing streak, who better to face than a Leeds Force team with one win in 21 in the league this season? A side beaten by 88 points on their last visit to Tyneside. And a club that's already used 23 players in a bid to find that elusive winning formula.

The Force limped up the A1 lacking quality, continuity and any conceivable threat. In fact, the only thing Leeds have in common with Newcastle is a shared sponsor.

From the tip this was a mismatch in the cruellest sense of the word. And that was in spite of Newcastle still shooting well below 50% from the floor during a first quarter that also saw the worrying withdrawal of skipper Darius Defoe.

The hosts leapt into a 9-0 lead and extended their advantage to 15 heading into the second period: on the face of it this was a walk in the park for the most decorated BBL franchise of the last decade.

However, the cracks that had appeared against Sheffield, grown wider against London and split wide open during a 100-83 homecourt defeat to Cheshire, were still in evidence.

Had almost any other BBL side rocked up at Sport Central last night then they would have made the Eagles pay for missing too many open looks, too many defensive assignments and too many big men in the paint. That the hosts were in complete control even without Defoe, Danish international Zarko Jukic and the departed Terry Martin said it all about the Force - so much weaker than their name suggests.

What immediately amounted to no more than a training exercise did, of course, offer Fabulous Flournoy's fringe players an invaluable opportunity to get competitive court time under their belts. …

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