Match report: Newcastle Eagles 69 Sharks 59

Zach Gachette, left, replaced Jeremie Simmons in the starting five. Pic: Dean Woolley.
Zach Gachette, left, replaced Jeremie Simmons in the starting five. Pic: Dean Woolley.
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Sharks received a blow to their BBL Championship title hopes with a 69-59 defeat at Newcastle Eagles on Friday night.

Sheffield and the Eagles entered the match in joint second place just four points behind league leaders Worcester Wolves but they now find themselves on five losses compared with Wolves three and Eagles four.

There’s still time to overturn the deficit but any defeats to their nearest rivals could prove crucial.

Sharks had been rocked earlier yesterday with news that shooting guard Jeremie Simmons had fractured a bone in his wrist.

The American has been in good form for Sheffield this season and now awaits the results of an MRI scan to determine whether there is also ligament damage.

In Simmons’ place in the starting line-up Sharks coach Atiba Lyons opted for Zach Gachette rather than Nick Lewis but during the first quarter no Sheffield player was able to stem the Eagles flow of points.

The hosts were in control from the start as they quickly opened up an 8-2 lead on their way to a commanding 21-9 advantage at the end of the opening 10 minutes.

Sharks sometimes have a habit of misfiring offensively and memories of their 40 point night at Leicester Riders earlier in the season came flooding back as Lyons’ team struggled to a 21 point deficit (36-15) late in the second quarter.

A 7-0 run brought some respectability to the score at half time but trailing 36-22 still left a lot to do in the second half.

Sharks battled hard in the third quarter but were still 55-40 behind entering the final period.

The last 10 minutes promised a come-back as Sheffield produced their best basketball.

Sheffield closed the gap to 59-51 with six minutes to play on a Demetrius Jemison two but Newcastle soon regained the initiative to lead 67-56 with under two minutes on the clock.