Basketball: Bears book Newcastle trip

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The Independent Online

Brighton Bears ended their play-off jitters with a 74-69 win over the second-placed Scottish Rocks on Saturday night, to clinch eighth spot in the British Basketball League and a quarter-final away to the champions, Newcastle Eagles.

The Rocks will play the seventh-placed Chester Jets, last season's league champions, with the third-placed Sheffield Sharks hosting Leicester Riders and London Towers at home to Guildford Heat in what could be the closest tie, between the fourth- and fifth-placed clubs.

The Bears were docked a point for fielding an ineligible team in January during their sojourn with the former NBA star Dennis Rodman, and it could have proved costly with Plymouth Raiders and Milton Keynes Lions also pressing for the final play-off slot. But Jerry Williams banished doubts with a 27-point performance in which the Bears took control to lead 38-23 at half-time.

The Eagles, with the Championship, Cup and Trophy titles under their belts, are favourites to complete a clean sweep by winning the play-offs and have begun preparations by easing off and resting some of their weary key players.

After losing 108-104 to the bottom club Birmingham Bullets on Friday they were beaten 84-82 at Plymouth Raiders last night. Darius Defoe led Eagles scorers for the first time this year with 22 points as they suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season.

Plymouth's play-off hopes ended with a 98-81 home defeat to the Sharks, who were led by 22 points from Blake Shelton. Milton Keynes recorded a 101-99 win at Birmingham Bullets.

Last night Sheffield and Guildford completed their regular season at Ponds Forge where the Sharks beat the Heat 96-89. Chester completed their regular season with an 85-74 home defeat against the Rocks.

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