Basketball: Eagles and Rocks left short by injury crisis

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A BBL Trophy semi-final place is up for grabs, but the Newcastle Eagles and Scottish Rocks can barely muster a starting five between them for this weekend's decisive qualifying games in Group 1 North.

The threadbare Eagles will be severely stretched for tonight's crucial game against the National League side Teesside Mohawks, with North-east bragging rights also up for grabs and with Newcastle normally expecting to stamp the extra firepower of their American-stacked line-up on their opponents.

But the Eagles must win tonight, then beat the Rocks by at least seven points in Glasgow tomorrow night if they are to join Chester Jets and Brighton Bears in the final four.

However, the Eagles will definitely be without Shawn Myers, who has broken bones in one hand and a dislocated finger on the other, and another American, Jeremy Hyatt, with groin and hamstring injuries.

Meanwhile, the Rocks have lost Niki Arinze to anterior cruciate ligament damage and he may miss the rest of the season, and Junior Williams has joined him on the injury list with a wrist problem.

Arinze's absence not only deals a crucial blow to Rocks' Trophy hopes, but also seriously undermines their prospects in the BBL Cup final, which takes place on Sunday 11 January against the Sheffield Sharks.

In BBL action, Brighton, who have won their last four games, can close the gap on the defending champions and leaders, Sheffield, to four points if they beat London Towers at Crystal Palace tonight.