BBL Trophy Final
Newcastle Eagles 96-94 Team Solent Kestrels (22-22, 46-45, 77-65, 87-87)
(Eagles – Fletcher 29, Defoe 23, Gettys 21; Kestrels – Sentance 26, Charles 18, Smith 18)
Newcastle Eagles have won the BBL Trophy for the seventh time in their history – and first time since 2015 – after prevailing through overtime to beat Team Solent Kestrels 96-94 in an historic final at the Emirates Arena, live on BBC Sport.
Among numerous heroic performances for the short-handed Eagles, CJ Gettys took the MVP award after a monstrous haul of 21 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists, with the seven-footer playing over 40 minutes of basketball.
Missing four players, and using only six on the day, Eagles looked to have the game won against the first National Basketball League Division 1 side to make the final, when Darius Defoe – who has now won the Trophy a record seven times – scored 12 third quarter points as they took the period 31-20 and led 77-65 heading into the final ten minutes.
But Kestrels came storming back in the fourth, taking the lead at 83-82 after scoring eight in a row, with Ian Smith hitting the last four of those, before tying the game with a Trayvonn Wright dunk with 4.5 seconds remaining.
There was little to separate the teams in the extra period, as the lead changed hands on six occasions, until the decisive moment came inside the final minute when Drew Lasker grabbed an offensive rebound and put back to give Newcastle a 95-94 edge with 57 seconds to play.
Kestrels had a shot to win it, but Wright left his long range two short and Defoe grabbed the rebound before icing the game at the line.
There were huge performances from three Eagles’ veterans, with Rahmon Fletcher leading all scorers on 29 points, while Darius Defoe had a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds, with Drew Lasker coming from the bench to be instrumental in key moments, scoring seven points and grabbing 10 rebounds, including four at the offensive end.
Eagles’ Head Coach Ian MacLeod commented in the immediate aftermath,
“This is the drama people want, and what a final should be. Massive credit to Solent; they have really shocked some people and they have had a fantastic season.”
Reflecting on a war of attrition, MacLeod added particular praise for Defoe, the most decorated player in BBL Trophy history,
“My guys dug in, and they had nothing left in the tank, so I’m really, really happy. Darius Defoe has been here for 17 years, and we expect him to rise to the occasion.
“All the way through we kept saying after the first quarter that there are only 30 minutes left of the season, 20 minutes left at half time, 10 minutes left, 5 minutes left.
“Keep pushing, this is our season right now, and you can see what it means to them.”