Eagles stay high

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Newcastle Eagles enter the New Year on the back of a nine-game winning streak, with Saturday's 95-84 Uni-ball Trophy win at Edinburgh Rocks earning them a quarter-final tie against London Leopards.

Newcastle Eagles enter the New Year on the back of a nine-game winning streak, with Saturday's 95-84 Uni-ball Trophy win at Edinburgh Rocks earning them a quarter-final tie against London Leopards.

Sheffield Sharks also squeezed into the last eight as the best third-placed team from the qualifying groups, despite losing 94-88 at Chester Jets in their final group game.

The Sharks now play London Towers in the last eight, with the quarter-final line-up completed by Chester against Derby Storm and Thames Valley Tigers facing Milton Keynes Lions. All four games are at Coventry's Skydome on 3 February.

Newcastle lost Tony Windless in the first quarter of Saturday night's game with a bruised rib and had to wait until the final minutes before ensuring the Rocks lost all six of their group games.

The Rocks led into the fourth quarter, inspired by 24 points from Ted Berry, but runs of11-2 and 12-4 regained the initiative for the Eagles, for whom Donnie Johnson scored 27 points and took nine rebounds.

Berry said: "We had a chance to win but we didn't play as a team down the stretch. We didn't fight for the game the way we should have."

Birmingham Bullets extended their winning streak to four games by beating Manchester Giants 78-73 at Aston Villa in the BBL Championship after trailing 59-43 in the third.

Bullets converted five consecutive three-point plays for a game-winning 75-71 lead.

The England international Steve Bucknall led Towers' scorers with 21 points as they extended their lead over the Southern Conference by cruising past bottom-placed Brighton Bears 81-71.

Chester maintained the pressure on Northern leaders Sheffield with an 88-78 win at Derby, where the Jets' James Hamilton led the scoring with 33 points.

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