Sheffield Sharks punished an understrength Newcastle Eagles 87-68 at the Telewest Arena last night to go six points clear of Brighton Bears at the top of the BBL Championship, although the south coast club have three games in hand.
Newcastle were without the hamstring victim T J Walker and his fellow-American Jeremy Hyatt, who returned to America to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
Even so Eagles stayed with the Sharks until two minutes from the end of the third period, and trailed just 58-57 until Sheffield scored 13 of the next 15 points.
Andrew Mavis led Eagles scorers with 25 points, including five from seven three-point attempts, while Nate Reinking scored five from eight 'threes' for the Sharks. Jerry Williams led their scorers with 23.
Tony Garbelotto, the Birmingham Bullets coach, finally signed Rob Paternostro yesterday, five months behind schedule, and the 29-year-old Irish American will make his second debut for the club against Essex Leopards at the Aston Event Centre tonight.
Paternostro was voted the Bullets' most valuable player last season after leading the BBL championship in assists and Garbelotto's priority was to re-sign him and his former club-mate Emiko Etete. However, Etete went to Brighton Bears and Paternostro left for a fruitless four months in Belgium when talks broke down with the Bullets' owner Craig Bown.
After Thursday's 81-80 defeat at Milton Keynes, their 14th loss in 16 games, the Bullets slipped back to last place in the championships and Garbelotto said: "Emiko and Rob were my priority signings because of their leadership and experience.''
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