BBL Trophy: Nervous Newcastle clinch Trophy final spot

Darius Defoe
Darius Defoe had 13 points for the Eagles in his 47th game in the BBL Trophy

Newcastle Eagles held off a late charge by Cheshire Phoenix to secure a place in the BBL Trophy final, despite losing 75-67 at home.

Leading by 12 points on aggregate with less than four minutes remaining in their semi-final second leg, the Eagles almost handed Cheshire the win.

"It was a case of they had nothing to lose and we tightened up a bit," said Eagles coach Ian McLeod.

London Lions won again in the BBL and Sevenoaks went top of the WBBL table.

Newcastle, again without player of the month CJ Gettys, led 67-64 - and by 12 points on aggregate - with 3:49 remaining of the second leg, but never added to that total, missing five shots and turning the ball over twice.

After hitting 11 unanswered points, Cheshire missed two shots in the last 90 seconds that would have sent them to the Glasgow final in two weeks' time. The final will be Newcastle's 10th in the competition, the most of any BBL team.

"They had chances to win it - and we had chances to score," added McLeod. "It was a very close thing and I think some of our guys were playing the scoreboard.

"But we've had a few battles in the last weeks and I think they just helped us grind it out in the end."

London Lions took a step towards retaining their Championship title when they beat Leicester Riders 99-65 behind 23 points from Brandon Peel.

At the other end of the table, winless Manchester Giants led by three points with a little over a minute to play at home to Plymouth, only to allow the Raiders to force overtime and win 96-90.

The weekend's most hectic finish came in Worcester's 88-85 overtime win against Bristol, with the Flyers missing five attempts to tie the game in the last six seconds in what was the fifth meeting of the sides this season.

Sevenoaks Suns took over at the top of the WBBL Championship with a 70-41 win at London, Janice Monakana scoring 16 points.

Durham Palatinates posted a 77-68 win over previous leaders Leicester, a result that they will hope to replicate when the two sides meet again in a fortnight's time in the WBBL Trophy final.

Dee Hayward, who left Leicester for Durham this season, top-scored with 14 points in a game where five Durham players scored in double figures.

The other title contenders also won. Newcastle squeezed past Essex with three free throws in the last 30 seconds for 70-68 win.

Nottingham won twice - at Oaklands and at home to Caledonia, who also lost to sixth-placed Manchester. Sheffield stayed in the hunt when they hung on to win 82-78 at Cardiff.

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