Old rivals Glasgow Rocks and Newcastle Eagles meet in the first BBL Championship game at the Emirates Arena on Sunday afternoon.
The sides met on the opening night of the new season, and Eagles began the defence of their BBL Championship title with a 72-65 victory. Joe Chapman picked up where he left off to lead the Eagles with 23 points and eight 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.
Rocks’ player-coach Sterling Davis is ready for another tough game against their neighbours as they open their new home venue: “It will be a great atmosphere to be hosting our league rivals in the first ever game at the Emirates Arena. On paper it could not have been drawn up any better way.
“I thought the Eagles have really added some important pieces to their roster who will be influential throughout the course of their season.
“In our last meeting Joe Chapman really did a good job of his inside-outside game. He shot the ball very consistently which is expected of him. I thought we let their defence fluster what we wanted to do in the first half and they really capitalized on it on the offensive end.
“I really liked Damon Huffman and the dimension he added for them. He is a very smart player at the point and got the ball where it needed to be whilst also taking advantage of his opportunities to score.”
Rocks quickly bounced back from that loss in Newcastle to record a road win at Durham Wildcats, and Davis was pleased with how his side played: “It was an improvement defensively from our first game. I thought we trusted in our principles and systems a lot more which worked for us. [Mike] Balderelli was a huge threat for them. I think he will really be a key to their success this season.”
Davis’ team were without a game last week, and he admitted he would have preferred to be in action: “Yes I was [disappointed] in a way because you want to continue to see progress with your team in game time situations but we had to settle this weekend for practice growth.”
Newcastle player-coach Fab Flournoy knows what to expect on Sunday evening: “We have already played the Rocks once and face another tough game against them this weekend. It will be another physical match up and we know that they are chock full of talented players. Last time we defended them aggressively and managed to hold our own on the boards. We will need to match the physical challenge they present to give us the best chance to win up there. EJ [Harrison] runs their team well but in reality they have six or seven guys who can go for 20 on any given night.”
Flournoy and Harrison both go into the game on the verge of taking their 500th three-pointer in BBL Championship games. Flournoy needs five to reach the milestone and Harrison three.
Tickets are still available for the game online or on the door, but if you can’t make it along you can follow the score live with BBL LiveStats or follow us on Twitter for scores and news during the day.