- National Teams
Newcastle Eagles warmed up for the defence of all four BBL titles with a concluding pre-season tournament victory over Swedish league champions, Sodertalje Kings.
Fab Flournoy’s side rallied from as many as 10 points down in the final quarter to force overtime before coming out with an 87-84 win at Sport Central.
Andy Thomson (pictured) went 9/11 from the field as he top scored with 27 points and added 10 rebounds with four other players in double figures.
Darius Defoe contributed 15, while Rahmon Fletcher dished out seven assists to compliment his 13 points and Scott Martin and Charles Smith both added 11 points apiece.
Sodertalje, last season’s playoff champions in Sweden, provided strong opposition and featured former England under-18 international Nick Spires, who finished with 7 points and 11 rebounds during the contest.
The Eagles made a fast start with Thomson scoring five of the opening seven points before their opponents settled with a 9-2 response to level the game midway through the first. After the teams traded mini 5-0 bursts, baskets from Martin and Stuart Thomson would help the hosts build a slender 18-16 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Sodertalje took their first lead on a run of five straight points before the lead changes hands twice more. Newcastle took control with a 10-0 run including triples from Defoe and Andy Thomson to make it 36-27. The visitors hit back in the final two minutes with a 9-2 close to the half to go into the break, trailing by two at 38-36.
The third quarter was even throughout – with further lead changes – until the Kings pulled away a late 13-2 run to build their own nine point lead. Fletcher split a pair of free throws as Newcastle headed into the fourth facing a 68-60 deficit.
The opening score went to the visitors to make it a double-digit differential. With four minutes to go, the Eagles still trailed at 77-68, but the Thomson brothers led the fightback with a combined seven points to cut the gap to four.
As the game approached the final minute, Smith nailed a 3-pointer to halve a six-point deficit and the Eagles were able to pounce in the final 11 seconds as a free throw from Fletcher and a successful pair from Martin tied the game in between two crucial misses at the line from Kings import Skyler Bowlin.
The home side locked down on defence in overtime as they kept their opponents scoreless for the final three minutes as a basket from Fletcher and two free throws from Andy Thomson completed the comeback victory for the reigning BBL champions.
Newcastle had opened the MKM Euro Invitational with a defeat against Belgian side Antwerp Giants, before bouncing back with a crushing win over BBL rivals, Leeds Force, who also suffered an 86-32 loss at the hands of Sodertalje in the opener.
The Eagles play another game against USA Select on Monday before starting their 2015-16 league campaign at Sheffield Sharks next Friday on September 18th.