Newcastle Eagles 96 Manchester Giants 76
FORWARD duo Kareem Maddox and Darius Defoe stole the show for Newcastle Eagles as they helped their team to make light work of despatching Manchester Giants in a rampant display at Sport Central last night.
Maddox followed up his BBL Team Of The Week performance last time out with another excellent showing of 17 points and nine rebounds, whilst Defoe claimed 18 points and eight boards as the Eagles got back to winning ways in the league.
Ahead of the tip, the Eagles’ coaching staff had earmarked locking down the Giants’ dangerous three-point shooters as being the key to success, although it was actually sharp-shooting Joe Chapman who made the first triple of the contest from an outrageously long way out.
In a briskly-paced opening, both teams were tied but the Eagles then began to hit their straps and the visitors buckled in a big way as Charles Smith nonchalantly converted a turnaround three-pointer before Darius Defoe threw down a high flying dunk.
That handed the Eagles a double-digit lead inside six minutes at 18-7 and was part of a rampant 16-0 purple patch when Giants were in danger of being blown away completely as Flournoy’s men picked up where they left off a week earlier in the BBL Cup semi-finals when destroying Worcester.
There was eventually relief for Giants when Ben Eaves rose to dunk the ball in frustration and end a truly rotten run. Although by the end of the first quarter, they still trailed 25-12 and were grateful to just be hanging in.
As the furious pace gradually relented and the play became visibly more scrappy during the second period, it helped the Giants enormously – or at least stopped the bleeding for a while as they left the court at half-time 46-32 behind and with their head coach Jeff Jones clapping his hands and grateful to be in with a shout.
However, the mediocre ten minutes ahead of the break by the Eagles proved to be more of a cheap sticking plaster than a robust bandage for Giants, since when the third quarter swung into action, the home side began to find their range and rhythm again.
Chapman sank a three-pointer to make it 58-37 and Jones was calling a time-out in the full knowledge his teamwas very much back on the rack again, with any chance of a shock comeback evaporating with every Eagles' possession.
With ten minutes remaining, the game was in the bag for the hosts at 76-53, which meant they were able to fully rotate their bench players and successive scores by young Eddie Matthew gave the crowd an extra reason to smile before the final buzzer.
In addition to the sterling work of Maddox and Defoe, Fab Flournoy led by example with an efficient cameo, whilst Chapman and Smith combined for 39 points and 10 assists.
The only real disappointment for the Eagles is that they now face a frustrating two-week lay-off, just when they are getting into their stride again.
Newcastle Eagles: Smith 21, Chapman 18, Defoe 18.
Manchester Giants: Gill 23, Eaves 13, Aliu 11.