BBL Cup, Semi-Finals, First Leg
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 75-73 London Lions (17-21, 38-37, 58-54)

The Esh Group Eagles Newcastle have the slenderest advantage to take into Sunday’s Second Leg after edging out London Lions, in Newcastle.

It’s a one possession game as Coach Vince Macaulay welcome’s Fab Flournoy’s side to the Copper Box Arena two-points the deficit with a place in January’s Final up for grabs.

In a very scrappy game the Lions misfired from the get-go, a very defensive line up for the hosts set out their stall to disrupt Lions offensive juggernaut. It worked to start and the Lions made it work even better as they were unable to convert so many easy chances despite taking the first quarter 17-21 on a Justin Robinson three pointer.

The second was much the same as Coach Macaulay shuffled his pack as he searched for the rhythm the team have shown all season. Brandon Peel showed off his sublime skills whilst Robinson popped up whenever the game looked to be drifting. The hosts clinched the second half by a solitary point 38-37.

The Eagles, focussed on Robinson as he always had an eagle detailed to marshall him. However Tabb and Flo Larkai kept the scoreboard moving as the Lions were always within touching distance, knowing whatever happened at the end of the game, battle would resume on Sunday afternoon. Twice the home side pushed out the lead to 8 points but again the Lions came back, this time the late introduction of Jerelle Okoro had the desired effect, the third ended 58-54.

Okoro netted a pair of three’s as the visitors suddenly sprang to life. With Bristol patrolling the airwaves near the basket, only Rahmon Fletcher of the Eagles seemed able to get to the cup. The Lions re-claimed the advantage late in the fourth at 69-73 before the Eagles scored the next six and held on for a basket lead before travelling down to London.

Key stat – The two teams were evenly matched throughout and despite winning the battle of the boards by 11, the Lions gave up 16 turnovers in the contest.

Sunday’s second leg tips off at 4pm at the Copper Box. Tickets area available at a special rate of just £5.

Lions scorers – Robinson 21, Peel 17, Tabb 15, Larkai 10, Okoro 6, Bristol 2, Spencer 2, Lockhart 0, Guede 0, Roberts 0, James, Ikhinmwin.

Eagles Scorers; Fletcher 22, Moses 17, Kyle Williams 11.

Box Score.