Basketball: Eagles given play-off fillip to revive flagging fortunes

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The Independent Online

Newcastle Eagles have been handed an incentive to transform their season by the British Basketball League's decision to hold this season's play-off finals at the club's Metro Radio Arena venue on Tyneside.

The Eagles at least ended 2006 on a high note by thrashing bottom-of-the-table Worcester Wolves 93-59 on Saturday night. But since completing a clean sweep of last season's four domestic titles, the second half of the year has seen the Eagles in decline.

Saturday night's win left them only in sixth place in the championship, with the likelihood of that title going to either Guildford Heat or Sheffield Sharks, who meet at the Spectrum tonight. The Eagles' BBL Cup crown will go to either Guildford or Scottish Rocks after Sunday's final.

The finals, on the weekend of 27-28 April, will incorporate the men's and women's English Basketball League's play-offs.

The priority of the Eagles' player-coach, Fab Flournoy, will be to drag his team into a top-four finish in the championship. Flournoy said, "We have a team of individuals, but that's no good in a team sport."

Today he is likely to terminate the contract of Jeremy Hyatt, after he returned to his American home at Christmas without the club's permission.

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