|The Newcastle Eagles players and staff celebrating their fifth BBL title (photo: Dave Lowerson)|
An ageing but still terrific Newcastle Eagles swept all before them in Great Britain this season.
Fab Flournoy, the Molten BBL (British Basketball League) Coach of the Year, steered the team to a 71-62 BBL play-off final victory over the Leicester Riders on Saturday in Birmingham's National Indoor Arena.
The team from Tyneside capped a magnificent year as they won all the major honours in Britain.
The Eagles, who finished first during the regular season with a 23-7 mark - one game clear of Leicester and Worcester (both 22-8) - also won the Cup and Trophy.
At times on Saturday, the Eagles looked as if their campaign would end in disappointment.
Newcastle trailed by 10 early in the second quarter and after clawing back the deficit to knot the contest at half-time, 31-31, Leicester, who have Great Britain captain Andrew Sullivan on their roster, pulled back in front by six at the start of the third quarter.
But the Eagles, getting 21 points and nine boards from Charles Smith, battled back again and took the lead for good after a steal and lay-up by Paul Gause capped a run for a 40-37 lead.
They remained on top the rest of the way.
Smith, 36, was the MVP of the title game.
Gause finished with 13 points while league MVP Joe Chapman and Darius Defoe, a 27-year-old forward from London who has been on the books of Newcastle since he was 18, contributed 10.
Flournoy, 32, is not only the boss but also player in the Eagles team and he had eight points and 13 rebounds.
Sullivan poured in 18 for the Riders.
"In the years we did it before, we were young and we were talented," Flournoy said.
"We knew we were good and we wanted to show it.
"This season, we did a lot of preparation and a lot of planning but there's a lot of old legs. But we did it."