After a weekend of high drama in the BBL Championship playoffs, Newcastle Eagles player-coach Fabulous Flournoy was delighted with his side's 167-125 aggregate victory against Guildford Heat.
"We are delighted to have navigated the first round and won both legs, that was a specific target for us," said Flournoy after the Eagles won the second leg 74-69 at Surrey Sports Park.
The win sets up a two-leg semi-final with Cheshire Jets, with the other half of the draw seeing Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders facing Glasgow Rocks.
"Credit to Guildford," continued Flournoy, "The second leg was very competitive and as well as good play from our starters, I was really happy with the way our bench played."
The tie was all but over after the first leg as the Eagles produced a dominant performance to put a four game losing stretch behind them and romp to a 93-56 victory. Joe Chapman led all scorers in the game with 33 points for the Eagles, with Paul Gause adding 25 for the home side. Guildford made a game of it, but couldn't prevent the Eagles remaining on course for a clean sweep of all four BBL trophies.
Jets were one of two sides who upset the form-book to qualify for the final four despite being a lower seed, but they were made to fight all the way before overcoming Worcester Wolves 167-157 on aggregate. Wolves overcame a 15-point third period deficit to tie the first leg 80-80. Things were still tied going into the final three minutes of Sunday's second leg but a game-changing moment had arrived moments before when Wolves' star forward Ritchie Gordon fouled out and Jets took full advantage as they scored 13 of the last 16 points in the contest to get the party started at Northgate Arena.
Cheshire's Adam Brown had 21 points to go with his 31 from the first leg, but it was Colin O'Reilly who led the Jets with 22 points.
Glasgow Rocks also made light of their lower seeding to progress to the last four with a 159-144 aggregate victory against UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders. A strong fourth quarter performance from the Raiders saw them win the home leg 84-79 but the roles were reversed three days later as Rocks outscored the visitors 25-11 in the final stanza to take the win. Scottish forward Gareth Murray was the toast of the Rocks fans after he collected a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds while Mychal Green added a game high 26 points.
Things were considerably more simple for the Riders, who dominated their two-leg quarter-final from start to finish on the way to a 182-141 victory against One Health Sharks Sheffield. Twenty-five Cameron Rundles points helped Rob Paternostro's side to a 92-76 road victory in the first leg as they led by as many as 30 at the EIS. Despite the unfamiliar surrounds of Loughborough University for their home game, a devastating run either side of the first quarter break ended the tie as a contest and with Rundles taking his tally to 54 for the weekend, the Riders chalked up a 90-65 win.
After a weekend of such thrilling action, the BBL is delighted to announce the semi-final line up and confirmed dates:
Newcastle Eagles (1st) v Cheshire Jets (6th)
Eagles Home - Friday 4th May @ 7.30pm
Jets Home - Sunday 6th May @ 5.30pm
Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders (2nd) v Glasgow Rocks (4th)
Rocks Home - Friday 4th May @ 7.30pm
Riders Home - Sunday 6th May @ 3.30pm