One of the oldest rivalries in British basketball continues at Sport Central this evening as Newcastle Eagles host Glasgow Rocks in the BBL Championship.
It will be the 80th meeting between the old foes, with Eagles holding a 52-27 lead in the all-time series.
The game is a key one for Sterling Davis’ Rocks as a win would see them clinch third place in the final Championship table. They head into the game in third with a 20-11 record, while the Eagles are already assured the runners-up spot having won 24 of their 30 games.
Two of those 24 Eagles’ victories have come against the Rocks this season, winning 72-65 at home on the opening night of the campaign before sealing the head-to-head series with a 106-84 road victory in October.
Eagles’ player-coach Fabulous Flournoy is amazed that the old rivals haven’t met for six months: “We haven’t played Rocks since the beginning of October which is unbelievable given that for the last few years we seem to have been playing them every month.
They have really come on strong the last two months and have justifiably earned third position. Gareth Murray regularly plays the most minutes for them but they also get a lot from Sterling and EJ Harrison’s veteran leadership. Donald Robinson is their offensive sparkplug.
“To be honest, last time we played them was so long ago it doesn’t matter!”
Rocks’ forward Andrew Wedemire rates the Eagles highly: “They have a really good team with good chemistry that have had the core few players together for a good while and that they have been a top of the table team for a long time. Charles Smith and Joe Chapman are key for them.
“We need to just finish of possessions and get defensive rebounds. We allowed them to get a lot of second chance points last time we played.”
Davis is ready for the Eagles after such a long gap in games between the two old rivals: “This is the first season I can remember of not seeing Newcastle over such a long stretch of time. Even with the time gap, our games against them are always fresh. It seems they have dealt with the injury bug especially of late but have still maintained a solid position in the table.
“I think Kareem Maddox is having an excellent first season in the league. His contributions on both ends have proven a huge boost to their team.
“Regardless of what we did or didn’t do on our last meeting; we will need to regroup. Where they are, and where we are now is not a true indication of judgement on improvements because of the time. We have to approach this game as if we are seeing them for the first time this season.”
We’ll have full coverage of the game on Twitter this evening from 7:15PM – hope you can join us then!