Basketball: Eagles hold advantage as Towers continue to rise

By Richard Taylor
Monday 24 February 2003 01:00

Newcastle Eagles took a grip on fourth place in the BBL Championship – which brings home advantage in the play-off quarter-finals – with a 98-82 win against Birmingham Bullets at the Aston Events Centre on Saturday.

The victory, 24 hours after defeating Thames Valley Tigers 98-78, took Newcastle four points clear of London Towers, who jumped to fifth above the Tigers by beating Leicester Riders 82-74 at Crystal Palace.

Rock-bottom Leicester ended a 22-game losing streak by beating Towers 103-89 three weeks ago, but that remains the only win in 26 for coach Billy Mims who led the club to the Championship and National Cup double two seasons ago.

Towers' fifth win in a row since that defeat was in little doubt once an 11-2 burst in the second quarter took them 46-37 clear, and Kendrick Warren scored six of his team's last 10 points out of a 26-point total. Mario Porter led Leicester with 27.

Bullets, one place above Leicester, had won their previous four home games but surrendered the initiative from the opening shots. Jeremy Hyatt was left unguarded to score Eagles' first nine points from three-pointers, while team-mate Niki Arinze helped himself to four first-quarter dunks, three of them from offensive rebounds.

Ronnie Griffin was the Bullets' only first-half threat, scoring 20 of their 36 points, but he collected his fourth foul on a technical moments before the break and spent the third quarter on the bench.

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