Newcastle Eagles maintained their perfect record with a 91-82 win away to the Manchester Giants. Meanwhile, London Lions picked up their first victory, in the battle of the summer’s re-named sides, to end the unbeaten start of Surrey Heat.
Newcastle’s lethal duo Joe Chapman and Charles Smith combined for 40 points as the visitors withheld the Giants valiant comeback. Fab Flournoy’s men had seen a third quarter lead of 22 points virtually wiped out by the home side, who threatened to cause an upset by closing to within a point.
David Watts gave Manchester an early lead after completing a rare four point play in a 10-4 start. James Jones looked set to repeat his recent form from behind the arc to keep the home side ahead before the Eagles hit back with a 9-2 response to take the lead. Anthony Martin added a late basket to give Newcastle a slender 22-21 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.
The visitors then extended their lead with an 8-2 start to the second and by the time the teams headed back to the locker room the score had been pushed out to 50-35. Chapman ended the half with consecutive triples to tail a 13-2 burst.
When play resumed, the lead peaked at 22 points as Defoe added four points in a 7-0 burst to start the third. Suddenly, the Giants were sparked back into life and launched an incredible fightback to close to within six points on the back of a dominant 18-2 spell.
Watts contributed ten points in the run but Damon Huffman ensured that the Eagles had the final say in the quarter with a late three pointer to make the score 64-55 in favour of the table-toppers with ten minutes remaining.
Smith made a pair of free throws midway through the final quarter as the lead crept back up into double figures but the Giants still refused to give in. Jones, Devan Bailey and Watts all connected from downtown to make it a one point game with four minutes to go.
Newcastle showed their class and managed to hold on to their lead from the free throw line despite another three from Watts as the game ended 91-82. The Giants, led by a game high 26 point haul from Watts, saw their unbeaten home record come to an end as their valiant recovery fell short.
In the night’s other game at Crystal Palace, the Lions picked up their first two points after beating Surrey 91-85 with Tayo Ogedengbe leading the way with a 27 point haul.
The two teams were level at the end of the first quarter as the visitors enjoyed a 12-4 burst to make it 22-22 after ten minutes. Orlan Jackman started and finished 14-2 opening to the second with a three pointer with Ogedengbe adding the eight points in between.
Surrey again produced the stronger finish to the quarter as they cut the deficit in half to trail by just six points at half-time with the score 46-40. They carried the momentum into the third when play resumed as the club’s new captain nailed a triple to make it a one point differential.
The Lions restored control to take an eight point lead although five points in quick succession gave Surrey hope heading into the final quarter three points down at 68-65.
Surrey then drew level early on in the fourth but would not take the lead until there were 3:49 left on the clock when a pair of free throws from Joseph made it 79-78. The teams traded baskets and level again with just over a minute left as Frank Holmes added two points from the line.
The home side moved closer to their first win as they seized the initiative with five quick points before closing out the victory at the free throw line.
Surrey can return to winning ways on Sunday when they host the Worcester Wolves while Newcastle travel to Glasgow and Manchester make the trip to Plymouth. Either Cheshire or Mersey will record their first win of the campaign as the two sides meet at the Northgate Arena to close the weekend’s action.