Newcastle Eagles have won the BBL Cup for the seventh time after overcoming London Lions 84-77 in one of the most dramatic finals in its history. It’s the fifth time they have won the Cup in the last decade - although their first since 2017, up to which point they had won three in a row – it comes after coming from behind at the death to secure a second piece of silverware already in Ian Macleod's tenure as Head Coach.
Eagles had led by as many as 15 points as Justin Gordon and Rahmon Fletcher scored 14 each in the first half, when a 10-1 push over the first quarter break and an 8-2 burst in the second stanza made it 40-28 three minutes before the break. However – despite playing the game with just seven players as the rest of the squad had to self-isolate under COVID-19 protocols – Lions mounted a brave second half comeback. A scintillating 16-2 third quarter run got them back within one, and they followed that with a 19-7 surge in the fourth quarter to snatch a 76-69 lead with four minutes to play as Justin Robinson, Orlando Parker and Kevin Ware, twice, hit big triples.
But the Eagles proved incredibly resilient to halt that momentum as, from there, they burst out of a timeout to score 12 straight points when a corner three from Gordon tied the game, before Louis Sayers did the same from the opposite corner to give Newcastle the lead for good at 79-76 with two minutes to play. It was a nervy finish until, with 30 seconds remaining, Gordon dragged down a huge offensive rebound – his 15th board of the game, a Cup Final record – enabling Fletcher to make a big score inside the paint that made it a two possession game at 81-76 and settled the tie.
The MVP award went to Justin Gordon as he finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. He said: "I can't even describe it right now, I'm just happy to enjoy this moment with my teammates. It was a crazy game, but we stuck it out and got the win. We're just going to enjoy this as a team for a little bit, and then get back to the regular season games”. Rahmon Fletcher led the scoring with 21 points.
Prior to that, Leicester Riders made it three BBL Championship wins on the bounce with a 90-58 defeat of Glasgow Rocks behind 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists from Corey Johnson. The hosts scored 20 straight points in the first quarter to dominate from the outset, Zach Jackson hitting 10 in that spell; and followed that with a 9-0 opening to the second stanza, before holding Rocks to just eight in that period, for 48-22 at the half and no way back for the visitors.