Basketball: Burns in saddle as Leicester ruffle Newcastle

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The Independent Online

Thirteen games into the campaign, the struggling Leicester Riders gave their British Basketball League season a shot in the arm by beating Newcastle Eagles 87-84 in an upset that could have repercussions at the Tyneside club. After Joel Burns scored the Riders' final seven points to earn only their third win this season, the immediate futures of the player-coach Fab Flournoy and some senior players may be in doubt.

With Sheffield Sharks beating the BBL leaders, London Towers, 76-72 at Crystal Palace, Newcastle had the chance to close the gap on the leading pack. Instead, Charles Smith and Jeremy Hyatt misfired in offence, and the Eagles were out-hustled by Stedroy Baker and Burns and out-rebounded by the veterans Steve McGlothin and Michael New.

The game had a frantic finale after Burns stretched the Riders' lead to 85-82 with his fifth three-pointer 24 seconds from time, before the Eagles' TJ Walker cut their lead to a single point. Burns was then fouled, and scored the two final points from the free-throw line. Burns led all scorers with 28 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, ahead of 20 from the Eagles' Englishman Andrew Sullivan.

Sterling Davis was the top scorer with 29 points for Sheffield, who cut the Towers' lead at the top of the table on Saturday night to just one win over the Sharks and Chester Jets, and two wins ahead of Brighton Bears. All of the chasing trio have at least one game in hand.