Basketball: Birmingham blinded by Newcastle recovery

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The Independent Online
Birmingham Bullets suffered from blurred vision at the National Indoor Arena on Saturday night, as they lost sight of the top spot in the Budweiser League with an 89-87 overtime defeat against Newcastle Eagles - despite a game-high 31 points from the returning American Tony Dorsey.

Dorsey's prolonged absence with a bruised retina contributed to the Bullets' National Cup semi-final defeat against Thames Valley Tigers. His team- mates still climbed to first place in the league with four wins, including one at erratic Newcastle two weeks ago. But Saturday's defeat, 24 hours after Greater London Leopards' 122-108 win at Leicester Riders, allowed the pack to close in and leave Birmingham with the same record as London Towers, on 13 wins from 15 games.

Two free throws from Dorsey gave Birmingham a 76-73 lead until Chris Fite scored a three-pointer 10 seconds from time to force overtime. The lead changed hands five times in the next three minutes until Rob Phelps put the Eagles 85-82 ahead. Leon McGee, Newcastle's leading scorer with 27 points, scored four free-throws in the final 30 seconds for the Eagles' ninth win of the season to consolidate their place.

League champions Leopards focused again on their title defence by scoring with eight from 11 first-half three-pointers at Leicester, to close to six points behind the leading pair. Eric Burks, who scored 32 points, and John White, with 31, again benefited from the back-court play of Ryan Cuff.