Newcastle Eagles 72 (20,35,59) (Chapman 23, Smith 15, Defoe/Flournoy 10)
Glasgow Rocks 65 (14,21,45) (Murray 16, Davis 11, Harrison/Robinson 11)
The Newcastle Eagles began the defence of their BBL Championship title with a 72-65 defeat of the Glasgow Rocks in the North East, after dominating the middle two quarters of the game.
Joe Chapman picked up where he left off to lead the Eagles with 23 points and 8 rebounds, while Charles Smith added 18 and Darius Defoe had a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Gareth Murray led the Rocks with 16 points.
The Eagles established an early 4-0 lead through the familiar pairing of Smith and Chapman that led them to the Championship last season, while the visiting Rocks failed to get off the mark for the opening three minutes. But the Rocks came back with the next 5 points through Murray and Donald Robinson, and led 7-10 on another Robinson score. They held a narrow edge heading into the last two minutes of the opening period, only for the Eagles to score the last 8 points, with Smith scoring 4 of those inside the final minute for a 20-14 lead that set the tone for what would come.
That momentum carried into the second stanza and the lead was soon double-digits as Chapman’s triple and Flournoy’s first points of the season made the score 25-15, the Rocks responding with a time out. The teams traded baskets thereafter in a slow second quarter, until consecutive scores from Flournoy and Defoe put the Eagles up 32-19, the Rocks having scored just 5 points through the opening seven and a half minutes of the second. The Eagles went on to lead 35-21 at the half, with the Rocks only managing one more score.
After the Eagles pushed the lead through the 20 mark at 41-21 on a Kareem Maddox dunk with the first six points after the break, the Rocks began to turn their fortunes around. They slowed the Eagles down as Sterling Davis scored 8 points in an 11-4 response – the Rocks scored more in two minutes than they had done in the previous twelve – and then got back to within single figures at 49-40 on Brice Fantazia’s basket. But it wouldn’t last long, as Charles Smith responded with consecutive three-pointers within 20 seconds and the Eagles maintained a 59-45 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The lead went back through the twenty mark on Joe Chapman’s basket at 65-45 as the Eagles re-asserted themselves. But the visitors put up a spirited fight down the stretch, restricting the Eagles to just 5 points in the final seven minutes and steadily narrowing the gap. They got to within single figures in the last minute, but could get no closer than the final score despite winning the fourth quarter 20-13.
Rocks will now prepare for their second game this weekend when they play the Durham Wildcats on Sunday at 4:00pm. Stay tuned to FIBA Livestats via the BBL website…
Postgame with Sterling:
Postgame with EJ:
Postgame with Gareth: