Basketball: Sheffield Sharks 75 Newcastle Eagles 77 (BBL Cup semi-final first leg)

Sharks point guard BJ Holmes. Pic: Dean Woolley.
Sharks point guard BJ Holmes. Pic: Dean Woolley.

It may have been Sheffield Sharks fourth defeat in a row but Friday night’s loss against Newcastle Eagles at the EIS could represent a turning point in the season.

In the grand scheme of things a two-point deficit from the first leg of the BBL Cup semi-final is no big deal.

An opening basket when the two teams meet again in the north-east on December 12 could level the scores or even see Sharks take the lead.

It would have been nice if Sheffield had come out on top of an enthralling game, which saw both sides show their best basketball although not necessarily at the same time.

Sharks stormed out to an early 11-4 lead on the back of some excellent play by forward Olu Babalola.

Eagles, the reigning league champions, look set to add to their trophy cabinet again this season with the squad they have assembled and immediately hit back to trail just 22-19 at the end of the first quarter.

The visitors enjoyed the better of the play in the second period with an 8-0 opening giving them their first lead.

Sharks levelled at 29-29 but Newcastle still led 34-31 at the interval.

Three three-point shots from Eagles Scott Martin – one of which he turned into a four-point play – were the major force behind a 16-6 run, which helped Newcastle go 50-41 ahead.

Sharks rallied to cut the gap to 58-51 on a Patrick Horstmann two but were swiftly nine down again early in the fourth quarter.

However, led by excellent play from Allen Payne and Nick Lewis, the Sharks battled their way into a 70-66 lead.

Eagles took the sting out of the crowd with a 7-2 run but a three by point guard BJ Holmes was the final score of the match and brought Sheffield back within one basket of the Eagles.

On Sunday the Sharks make the long trip to Plymouth Raiders for a league match.