Report by Robbie Macdonald

Get your tickets for the next Gladiators fixtures! Our BBL side face Plymouth City Patriots next a week today – TICKETS. The WBBL squad are in action tomorrow, welcoming Oaklands Wolves to Paisley – LAST MINUTE TICKETS.

Caledonia Gladiators opened their BBL Trophy campaign brilliantly with a thrilling 97-86 victory over fierce rivals Newcastle Eagles tonight.

Jordan Burns sat the game with an injury picked up during the week at practice. Ali Fraser remained out of action with a continued foot injury.

The home side were quickest to get into their rhythm earning a nine-point lead early in the match, cheered on by brilliant home support. A fight back from Eagles saw their lead drop to just three points by the end of the quarter.  David Sloan was the man of the period, scoring eight points for Gladiators, including two three-pointers. Although the 23-year-old guard couldn’t be faulted in the offensive half, his ill-discipline at on defense saw him concede three early fouls, forcing Gareth Murray to make an early change.

Eagles managed to ahead early in the second quarter, but this only fired up the Glasgow team who launched themselves into a 15-point lead a couple of minutes before half-time. However, a late surge from Marc Steutel’s group brought them back into the match, cutting the deficit to eight points at the break.

In the absence of Jordan Burns, sidelined with an injury picked up in training, and David Sloan in foul trouble, the game was played through Jeremiah Bailey, driving his team from the three spot. He brilliantly scored 13 points in the opening half, shooting 100% from the three-throw line.

The Tyneside team went back to their starting five at the start of the third quarter and turned the game on its head. They clawed back to a 57-54 lead with an impressive spell that included a nine-point scoring run. Donovan Johnson was at the heart of the comeback, winning two defensive rebounds and scoring five points in quick succession to help regain his side’s advantage.

This lead was not to last though as Gladiators bounced back from their sticky patch, relentlessly attacking their English rivals to flip the game again in their favour.

Despite their two earlier comebacks, Newcastle could not contain the home side in the final quarter and the home team saw out the match comfortably to book their place in the next round, winning 97-86.

Following his impressive first-half performance, Bailey continued his fine form in front of the basket to increase his points total to 31. This, along with 12 rebounds and six assists, made him the comfortable choice for the game MVP, sponsored by Exceed Footwear.

The game brings Caledonia Gladiators one step closer to the coveted BBL Trophy final, played at their hometown Emirates Arena in March. Getting there will not be easy though, especially with a tough draw against London Lions, who qualified for the quarter-finals with an 89-53 win against Worthing Thunder on Thursday. The tie will be played on the weekend of the 10-12th February.

Before that, it’s a return to league action for Murray’s side, who look to bounce back from three straight defeats and pick up their first win of the new year. They play host to Plymouth City Patriots next Friday, with tip-off at 7:30 pm. Get your tickets HERE!