Eagles survive in Cup, Sharks off the mark

Newcastle Eagles advanced into the next round of the BBL Cup following a nail-biting 77-75 win over the Plymouth City Patriots at the Plymouth Pavilions on Sunday afternoon.

In a fiery and, at times, scrappy encounter that had the crowd of more than 1,100 fans on the edge of their seats, it was the longest-serving Eagle, Darius Defoe, who settled the game.

His jumper, followed by going one of two from the foul line in the final two minutes, won the game, leaving Plymouth to rue their missed opportunities as they failed to connect on their last four shot attempts.

David Cohn led the Eagles with 21 points off a stellar 63% shooting afternoon. Duke Shelton and Javion Hamlet both added 13.

Rashad Hassan went 8/10 from the field for his 16 points to pace Plymouth.

Patriots began the game on a 9-1 run as Newcastle failed to capitalise on their open looks, missing their first five shots before Hamlet’s runner in the lane dropped.

From there, the Eagles settled into their offensive rhythm and eventually took the lead at 19-18 with 56 seconds of the first quarter left with a three-pointer from Cohn, which they maintained heading into the second.

Isa Brandon replied instantly for the hosts with a three to retake the lead, with Shelton coming right back inside for the visitors as both sides traded leads in the early stages of the period.

Patriots used their quickness to get to the hoop as they scored 18 points inside in the first half with Elvisi Dusha, fresh off his 21-point performance in the loss to Bristol on Friday, at the heart of it all.

Albanian international, Dusha continued his offensive onslaught, picking the pocket of Kennedy en route to a lay-in to give Plymouth a 39-37 lead before the Eagles finished on a 6-0 run to keep them on top at the break.

While the second quarter was a cagey affair, the third suddenly exploded into life, with both sides hitting a combined four threes in the first three minutes.

Troy Simons – who hit one of the four triples – got the steal and resulting one-handed slam, highlighting an 8-0 spurt to give Plymouth a 54-49 cushion with 6:47 left of the third.

But the Eagles hit back again as neither team could break away in a fiercely contested battle. A jumper from Lesley Varner handed the visitors a 62-56 advantage.

Two quick triples from James Hawthorne Jr. and Brandon again tied this game of tug of war between the two sides before the Eagles, like they did in the second, ended the third on a 6-0 run, highlighted by a buzzer-beating three from Defoe, his first since February 2021.

The Eagles managed to hang on to their lead in the fourth until the halfway point of the quarter when a pull-up jumper from Hawthorne Jr. gave the Patriots a 70-69 lead.

However, despite heavy pressure from the Patriots, the grandstand finish ended with the Eagles soaring into the next round of the Cup.

In the lone Championship clash, B. Braun Sheffield Sharks got their first win on the board with a 62-49 win over Cheshire Phoenix at Ellesmere Port Sports Village.

In a physical, defensive war, the Sharks, led by 21 points and seven rebounds by Saeed Nelson, managed to avoid a fifth straight defeat, which would have been their worst start to a BBL season ever.

On the flip side, the 49 points put up by the Phoenix is their fourth-lowest total in franchise history.

Jamell Anderson led the Phoenix with 12 points.

But it all started brightly for the hosts as they raced clear, to begin with, a 13-1 run as the combination of Anderson and Larry Austin Jr. snapped through the teeth of the Sharks.

It took nearly five minutes before Sheffield got their first field goal with a thunderous one-hand slam from Marcus Delpeche.

However, in the following possession, Daniels connected on a three-point play, leading to the hosts taking a 20-12 first-quarter lead.

Despite the slow start, Sheffield battled their way back in the second and, in spells, narrowed the gap to one possession as the hosts failed to make their opportunities count.

And Sheffield’s persistence paid off with 35.6 seconds of the half left with a mid-range jumper from Nelson coming part of a three-point play, giving his side a 32-31 lead.

A split pair of free throws from Austin, though, left the half beautifully balanced.

Sharks started the third period defensively, frustrating Cheshire, holding them scoreless for nearly five minutes before a three from Will Neighbour broke the ice.

A three-point play from Anderson reduced the deficit to 39-38 with 3:37 left in the third, and a jumper from Lloyd Daniels gave the lead back to the hosts.

However, a lay-up from Javion Ogunyemi wrestled it back to the Sharks heading into the fourth.

The physicality took control in the final quarter as both teams showed no mercy and left everything on the floor defensively.

Offensively, Bennett Koch hit a pretty baseline hook shot, which was replied by a three from Anderson, who atoned for picking up his fourth foul in the previous play.

Following sublime team play, culminating in a lay-up from Nelson, Anderson fouled out, which proved to be a game-changer for the Sharks.

And thanks to solid free throw shooting, the visitors scored their last eight points at the stripe to unlock the key to victory.

Sunday’s two games ends an exciting seven games in the BBL. To check when your team are next on, subscribe to our YouTube channel and never miss a second of the action.

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