Newcastle Eagles have one foot in the BBL Trophy Final after a commanding 84-116 road win over the One Health Sharks Sheffield in the semi-final first leg.
It is the fourth time that the Eagles have beaten the Sharks in all competitions this season, as they seek to win their third BBL Trophy in four years.
Joe Chapman led the way with 37 points, including 6/10 three-pointers, while Paul Gause had 26 points and 6 assists. Former Eagle Olu Babalola led the Sharks with 22 points, the hosts suffering from four technical fouls and two unsportsmanlike fouls in the game.
Chapman took control from the outset as he had 10 first quarter points despite the game being tight through the early exchanges and providing few clues as to what would come. The Eagles did establish a 20-27 lead in a 9-4 spell that included 4 points for Chapman and 3 for Andrew Thomson, but the Sharks rallied to trail just 26-29 after ten minutes.
But the Eagles set about their hosts immediately in the second quarter, holding them scoreless for the first three minutes as they scored the first 13 points with Chapman getting a further 6 of those. The run continued as the first half lead peaked at 36-61 on a Chapman three-pointer inside the final minute of the half, as the Eagles won the second stanza 32-12.
The lead barely grew in a competitive third quarter, and the Sharks looked to have found their feet as they held their visitors scoreless for three minutes and posted a 7-0 run to trail 47-64. But the revival didn’t last long as the Eagles responded with the next 8 points, including 5 for Gause, and they took a 56-82 lead into the fourth quarter.
Sharks’ Coach Atiba Lyons was ejected from the bench in the fourth after picking up his second technical foul of the game, and their misery was compounded as the Eagles grew their lead to its peak at 75-109 on a Chapman three-pointer. Charles Smith added a triple on the buzzer to ensure that the Eagles take a 32-point advantage into the second leg.