Basketball: Eagles on verge of making history

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The Independent Online

Newcastle Eagles will become British Basketball League champions for the first time in their history tonight if they defeat London Towers on Tyneside, after a setting up the title with a 76-69 win on Saturday against second-placed Scottish Rocks, who then threw in the towel last night with an 84-77 defeat at last season's champions, Chester Jets.

Their player-coach, Fab Flournoy, has already collared the BBL Trophy and Cup this season and now one more league win will guarantee the Championship and install Eagles as overwhelming favourites for the play-offs.

Flournoy and the playmaker T J Walker scored 17 points each against the Rocks. But for a potential title-decider it was a scrappy affair. There were 64 free throws and the Rocks missed enough of them to have comfortably won the game. The Eagles missed 20 out of 21 three-point attempts but compensated by holding the Rocks scoreless for seven minutes in the second quarter.

Flournoy led from the front and scored six points in a 10-0 surge which opened a 37-25 half-time lead. Rocks' Julius Joseph had looked jaded after returning from England duty, but found his range with two three-pointers in an 11-0 run and a third cut Eagles' lead to 71-67 in the final minute. But Eagles stayed cool from the foul line to seal the win and probably the title. A dispirited Rocks were outscored 26-14 in the second quarter last night at Chester, where Phillip Gilbert led the Jets with 29 points.