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Newcastle stand the heat; Sharks and Giants continue winning momentum

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Newcastle stand the heat; Sharks and Giants continue winning momentum

Newcastle Eagles moved level on points at the top of the table with a win over third-placed Surrey while Sheffield and Manchester moved closer to the play-off positions with victories at home.

Newcastle Eagles moved level on points at the top of the table with a win over third-placed Surrey Heat while Sheffield and Manchester moved closer to the play-off positions with victories at home.

Fab Flournoy’s men survived a tough challenge despite the absence of Charles Smith as they defeated their opponents 89-80 at Sport Central. Damon Huffman top scored with 26 points while Darius Defoe- 21 points and 13 rebounds- and Kareem Maddox- 14 points and 12 rebounds- contributed double-doubles.

The home side raced into an early lead on the back of an 11-0 burst before Surrey finally got going and managed to close the gap to five points at the end of the first; trailing 26-21. The Eagles threatened to pull away as their lead extended into double figures but the twin combination of Chavis and Travis Holmes narrowed the gap to 45-39 at the half.

Surrey came out firing in the second half and soon levelled the game at 54 following a two from Frank Holmes. Newcastle regained control and a late triple from Huffman made it 64-60 with ten minutes remaining.

Sam Cricelli added a pair of free throws to make it a one possession game but Newcastle moved ahead to lead 76-65. The visiting Heat hit back with an 8-0 response to set up a tense finale but Newcastle held on as Defoe struck from beyond the arc for the first time this season and Anthony Martin held his nerve at the line.

Manchester won at home for the second week running in similar fashion as they defeated the Cheshire Phoenix 85-83 in a close encounter. Ben Eaves led the way with 20 points and 15 rebounds while Gabriele Haskins had a game high 31 points personal in the absence of Chez Marks.

The Giants made a dominant start as they opened up a 30-21 advantage after the first quarter. Their lead peaked at 13 points before being pegged back over the next two quarters as Cheshire narrowed the gap to 44-38 at half-time and then even further at the end of the third, down 65-61.

A triple from David Watts made it a five point differential before Haskins added six points in quick succession to give the visitors the lead. Eaves netted from long range as the lead changed hands several times before the two teams were even at 83 in the final minute.

Stefan Gill turned a steal into an assist as Eaves dunked the ball home and Cheshire missed in the final stages to give Manchester their 5th victory of the season as they close to within two points of 8th placed Phoenix.

Sheffield have also seen their fortunes change and made it three wins in a row after another comeback victory against the Glasgow Rocks. Atiba Lyons’ men found themselves trailing by as many as 13 points in the second quarter before responding in style to win 83-74 and close in on the play-off positions.

Micah Williams top scored for the home side with 23 points while Glasgow were led by a 16 point haul from Gareth Murray as they lie in seventh position having split their opening 12 games.

With no action on Saturday, the BBL returns to action with a blockbuster Sunday with four games scheduled. Plymouth host league leaders Leicester while Newcastle have the chance to top the table with a win in the capital should the Riders slip up. Cheshire are at home to Sheffield and Glasgow will look to return to winning ways as they entertain Mersey.

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