Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles Close to Win, but Intensity Fades Late On

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Eagles Close to Win, but Intensity Fades Late On

Article excerpt

LEICESTER RIDERS 92 NEWCASTLE EAGLES 80 JEFF KING DESPITE an almost heroic effort, Newcastle Eagles slipped to a second successive road defeat in Leicester last night.

In doing so they let the reigning league champions Riders take the season series 2-1 and virtually confirm a fourth consecutive BBL Championship.

An Eagles side once again shorn of the services of Fab Flournoy, both as a player and on the sidelines as head coach, were also without assistant coach Dave Forrester, meaning Ian Macleod was asked to step up in to the top spot and he almost masterminded a sensational win.

Indeed, when Jure Gunjina made a two-point lay-up with 7:41 left on the game clock the Eagles led by six at 71-65.

It was then that the tiredness of a shorthanded roster took its toll as Leicester went on an 18-0 run over the next six-plus minutes to completely turn the game around. The visitors who had led by 11 at the half and even by 12 during the third quarter were powerless to do anything to stop the Leicester surge and, in the end, undeservedly had to take a 12-point loss as the final buzzer sounded.

It was cruel on a Newcastle side that played so much better than they had on Sunday down in Surrey. They showed a lot more spirit particularly in the opening twenty minutes of the game.

Their unfamiliar zone defence - enforced due to being down four forwards - was starting to look a lot more solid. They were contesting every shot and rebound as though their season depended upon it which in many ways it did.

Jaysean Paige, who had been uncharacteristically quiet in the last outing, had 14 points by the half, and with Saah Nimley also providing solid support an unlikely Eagles win had been on the court until those last final fatal minutes. Leicester had opened the game well, but Eagles fought back. And with Paige in the mood, they had opened a 25-17 lead before Rema Lascelles heaved a "hail Mary" shot from inside his own half to cut the gap to within five after the first period. …

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