By Ryan Gillham
Durham Wildcats find the positives going into next week’s BBL opener against Worcester Wolves after Saturday’s defeat in their final pre-season game to local rivals Newcastle Eagles.
The Wildcats started very strong in the game with new American signing Andrew Keister claiming the opening two points of the game.
Durham kept up there tenacious start by taking an early six-point lead with two shots from deep before there was a stoppage in the game with due to court issues as the score stood 8-2.
After the break in play the Eagles fought their way back into the game tying up the game at 12-12 before taking their first lead of the game as the Wildcats conceded too many turnovers and finishing the quarter strong with the visitors leading 21-24.
Durham stepped up the pace again in the second taking the lead with some fast paced basketball with another new signing Keith Page at the fore front setting the tempo with the Wildcats opening a 9 point gap at 44-35.
Eagles finally found their feet with 2, three pointers from star man Joe Chapman and some tough defence by Newcastle, got them back into the game as the half ended 48-47.
The Eagles made a change of tactics early on in the third quarter which turned the game into Newcastle’s favour as they gained a 10-point lead, as they also dictated the pace of the game despite Wildcats efforts to make a comeback the third ended 58-75.
Both teams were very physical throughout the game, right into the final quarter with a fast and furious display but it was the Eagles who showed the more experienced of the two teams with some poor decision making by the Wildcats gave Newcastle the chance once again to extend their lead as the score showed 68-89 with three minutes left on the clock.
Although the Eagles had the game under control, the Wildcats didn’t give up pushing Newcastle right to the final buzzer as the fourth finished 77-95 to the Eagles.
Head Coach of the Wildcats Dave Elderkin spoke after the game about how much of a needed game it was to play the Eagles for the new players in the squad in preparation for next week:
“It certainly helped tonight playing the Eagles,” he said. “It was good for the new players in the squad and I wanted to give them a short learning curve and I believe it really took the players by surprise at how quick and physical this league is but it was exactly what I wanted for the team.”
Eagles player/coach Fabulous Flournoy thinks Elderkin has prepared well and also believes with more training and as the team gel they will become even stronger, adding: “Dave has done very well so far in pre-season, the team is well organised and can shoot the three ball extremely well. I believe as the team start to come together more they will become a harder to beat.”
Durham Wildcats – Keith Page, 15 points.
Newcastle Eagles – Joe Chapman, 22 points.
M.V.P – Joe Chapman, his points scoring and tenacious play put Eagles in good stead for victory.