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Page last updated at 17:54 GMT, Sunday, 3 May 2009 18:54 UK

Eagles claim BBL play-offs crown

By Rob Dugdale

Newcastle's Trey Moore
Newcastle's Trey Moore scored 22 points

The Newcastle Eagles held off a determined comeback by the Everton Tigers to win their fourth BBL play-offs title in the last five seasons.

The Eagles, led by Trey Moore's 22 points, beat the Tigers 87-84 at the NIA in Birmingham.

Newcastle led by 21 points in the first quarter but 17 points from Great Britain guard Richard Midgley almost stole the game for Everton.

Midgley finished with 36 points - a new record for the play-off final.

The Eagles started the game with a rush by scoring 36 points in the first quarter - another play-off final record - to lead by 19 points after the first period.

Guard Reggie Jackson hit his first four three-point attempts and Darius Defoe came off the bench to add seven points.

Richard Midgley showed us why he's in the GB squad

Everton Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto

Everton responded with an 11-2 start to the second period. By half-time, the Tigers were back in contention, with Midgley and Olu Babalola combining for 30 of the team's 40 points as they trailed by 11.

Midgley's first three-pointer of the game reduced the arrears to single figures within two minutes of the restart but Moore, Jackson and Defoe kept the Eagles ahead 70-52 after three quarters.

In the fourth, Midgley took over, hitting three threes in a 16-7 run that suggested a shock finish was still to come.

Babalola's three with 1:22 left and a pair of free throws from Midgley had Everton trailing 84-82 into the last 15 seconds.

Moore's two free throws and another from Jackson ensured Newcastle won their third title of the season, but Moore admitted afterwards that it was close.

"Everton caught fire - hats off to them -I think they play better when they're behind," said Moore.

"It was a dogfight at the end - we kept our composure - we didn't crack. We won it over the forty minutes - but I don't know what would have happened if there'd been another minute to play."

Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto praised his team's effort and especially that of Babalola, who scored 25 points, and Midgley, who was forced to take on more scoring responsibility when leading marksman Andre Smith returned to United States for a family bereavement.

"This has been an issue this season - Richard has deferred to Andre on just about every occasion," said Garbelotto. "This weekend we told him he had to be more competitive and he showed us why he's in the GB squad."

Moore, who added the Play-offs MVP award to the one he won at the Trophy final in March, also praised Midgley and his own team-mates.

"Midge was terrific - he's a really great basketball player. The MVP could have gone to any of us really - Darius, Reggie, Bridgey (Andrew Bridge) or Tap (Tafari Toney)."

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see also
Eagles and Tigers reach BBL final
02 May 09 |  Basketball
Eagles guard Moore gets top award
28 Apr 09 |  Basketball
Raiders into BBL finals weekend
27 Apr 09 |  Basketball
Heat ready for Plymouth showdown
23 Apr 09 |  Basketball
Plymouth Raiders 76-74 MK Lions
20 Apr 09 |  Basketball

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