Sheffield Sharks 98
Newcastle Eagles 78
(Sharks win 166-154 on aggregate)
The comeback kings did it again to clinch their place in the BBL Play-off final with a superb 98-78 victory over Newcastle Eagles at the EIS yesterday.
Trailing by eight from Friday’s first leg in the north-east, the Sharks were down by as many as 15 overall before fighting and clawing their way through to the BBL’s showpiece match on April 30.
Forward Olu Babalola was Sharks hero with 32 points and 14 rebounds in an excellent all round performance. Guard duo Ryan Patton and Steve Dagostino scored 18 each.
It is the second time in the Play-offs Sharks have won through after trailing by large margins.
In the quarter-final against Glasgow Rocks they recovered from a 21 point deficit.
Beating a team as tough as Eagles is difficult enough but Sharks allowed themselves to fall 2-7 behind as guard pairing Andrew Lasker and Reggie Jackson continued their good form from the first leg.
However, Babalola took over for Sheffield scoring 15 points to give Sharks a 22-21 lead. Eagles responded to move back in front 25-26 after 10 minutes.
The match continued to twist and turn in the second quarter. Good play from Paul Williams and Babalola put Sharks 33-31 on top.
But a technical foul on player-coach Atiba Lyons caused a five point Eagles run, helping the visitors move to 33-40. Sharks quickly levelled at 40-40 only for Newcastle to end the half holding a 12 point lead overall at 42-46.
Sharks gradually wore the Eagles down in the third quarter.
Babalola, Dagostino and Patton were all enjoying success driving to the basket as they went in front in the match at 59-56 and then overall at 67-58.
Eagles refused to allow Sheffield to build on their advantage as Jackson’s long three on the buzzer pulled them back to 73-65 and level in the tie.
Sheffield controlled the fourth quarter as Lyons utilised all his forwards. Eagles briefly took the lead on the tie at 80-74 but centre Williams scored seven in a 15-1 burst to give Sharks victory.
Sharks scorers: Babalola 32, Dagostino 18, Patton 18, Williams 16, Tuck 10, Stout 3, Lyons 1.