Fab Flournoy, the Newcastle Eagles coach, was ejected from the game in the closing seconds at the Telewest Arena last night as his team were overwhelmed by BBL Championship leaders Sheffield Sharks 105-72.
The Sharks stayed four points clear of Brighton Bears and Thames Valley Tigers at the top of the Championship after blitzing the Eagles with a 28-6 run at the start of the third quarter to lead 70-43.
The only encouragement for the Eagles was the return from injury of the American Nikki Arinze, the league's leading rebounder and scorer. Arinze, who dislocated a shoulder when he fell on court last month, was not expected to play again until after Christmas but scored 14 points in 27 minutes on court.
The player-coach Flournoy has also been playing sporadically due to a prolonged hamstring injury. He was on court for eight minutes but his frustration at Newcastle's defeat led to his expulsion for arguing with the officials.
Jerry Williams led Sharks scorers with 33 points, while T J Walker scored 23 for the Eagles.
The Bears also romped home, beating Essex Leopards 91-60 at the Brighton Centre. A 13-0 run put Bears 21-6 ahead in the first quarter, and subsequent bursts of 9-0 and 7-0 kept the Leopards out of range. Sterling Davis led Bears scorers with 22 points, while Rod Brown racked up 16 for the Leopards.
Sheffield, though, face "mission impossible" at Ponds Forge tonight in the BBL Trophy, when they need to beat Chester Jets by 24 points to join Newcastle Eagles, Birmingham Bullets and London Towers in the competition's semi-finals.
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