BBL Cup Final: Newcastle too strong for depleted Lions

By Rob DugdaleBBC Sport
Justin Gordon (Newcastle Eagles)
Justin Gordon led the Eagles to their sixth BBL Cup

Newcastle Eagles won the BBL Cup the fourth time in seven years as they beat London Lions 84-77 in the final in Leicester.

Rahmon Fletcher led Newcastle's scoring with 21 points and Evan Maxwell and Justin Gordon added 17 points each.

Dirk Williams had 19 points and Justin Robinson 17 for the Lions, who had six positive Covid tests in the run-up to the game.

As a result, the 2019 Cup winners had only seven players available.

They were missing former NBA player Deandre Liggins, but had four regular starters and a Great Britain international still available.

"We've had three series of tests this week, and we do everything we can but the virus is still out there," said head coach Vince Razaq. "You don't know who's got it or who's had it."

The Lions have also had to forfeit their place in the Fiba Europe Cup, which would have seen them playing in a bubble group in Poland, this week.

In the first BBL final since last March's Trophy final in Glasgow, London led for periods in the early stages.

"I said to the guys at half time, 'we're in great shape here, we just have to put some of our stuff together' - and we did," said Razaq.

Trailing 46-35 at the interval, they remained in contention despite trailing for the whole of the third quarter.

Newcastle's errors at the start of the final quarter allowed London to briefly take a 76-69 lead with four minutes 28 seconds remaining, thanks to threes from Justin Robinson, Orlando Parker (twice) and Kevin Ware.

Lions only scored one more point - as Newcastle's response tied the game at 76-76 on a three from Gordon, later named Most Valuable Player.

Louis Sayers added another and Fletcher drove for a lay-up as the Eagles reasserted their control over the game to win their sixth BBL Cup.

Eagles coach Ian MacLeod had words of comfort for his Lions counterpart Razaq, having had to overcome a player shortage of their own in the BBL Trophy final 10 months ago.

On that occasion, MacLeod used only six players as his side beat Team Solent in overtime, with three of his players having opted to leave the UK as the pandemic took hold last March.

"I can empathise with Vince," MacLeod said. "It brings you together - they were scrappy all the way through - we knew they weren't going to go away.

"But anyone who's watched us for the last few weeks, we've been winning tough, gritty defensive games and that stood us in good stead."

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC