Written by Daniel Gilfoyle
A tough loss for the Caledonia Gladiators as they fall to the Newcastle Eagles 83-77 in a game of runs, tough possessions and poor shooting.
This game was a must-win for Newcastle, a loss ruled them out of playoff contention so they needed to bring their A-game – which they did.
For Caledonia, nothing was to be received from this game as fourth place in the championship was already solidified.
Newcastle were without Javion Hamlet, who dropped 25-points against the Gladiators last week.
Hasahn French opened the scoring after a Sloan turnover, Bailey tied it up quickly after.
Kyle Jimenez was given the David Cohn matchup early as coach Gareth Murray looked to avoid a rematch of last weeks confrontation between Cohn & Sloan.
Jeremiah Bailey grabbed two early fouls – Al Durham came in for him and got one of his own a minute in.
An energy shifting play in the first quarter was an incredible fast-break from the Gladiators, Sloan throwing it up for Onwas to slam home an alley-oop, a play that will be on BBL’s plays of the week.
No team could get a run in the first period, either team struggled to get past a two-point lead before the end where the Gladiators played suffocating defence and Prince Onwas scored at the death to extend the lead to six-points as the opening ten minutes.
Fraser Malcolm instantly extended the lead with a corner three which kickstarted a strong start to the second quarter where the Gladiators controlled the game with the lead remaining at around four-six points, alike the first quarter where both teams couldn’t get consistent runs.
The Eagles found their form again as the tied it up at 30-a-piece before grabbing their first lead since the beginning of the game.
The game became a ding-dong battle from there, both teams went back and forth with the lead, Durham was electric as he converted an and-one possession on the fast break.
Newcastle got their lead to three before the end of the half at 38-35.
The Gladiators had to find their shooting form at the interval as they are struggling from deep, shooting 2/9 – one more made three would have the game tied.
Durham stoodout for Caledonia, his 11 points off the bench leads the team in scoring – he also has three fouls which will limit his minutes. On the contrary, Fahro Alihodzic is struggling to score the ball – two points on 1-8 shooting is not the best but he is making up for it with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
The third quarter was a similar story to the second, but the roles were reversed with the Eagles coming out strong, finding their rhythm and keeping the lead until about midway through, after a Kyle Jimenez injury brought Durham back into the fold to dictate the tempo of the game for Caledonia.
Newcastle then picked up their game and dominated for the closing three minutes, getting their lead to a peak of 14 before ending the quarter up ten at 63-53.
Alihodzic scored six points in a short spell, Durham came in and got the deficit to single digits with two free throws but it wasn’t meant to be as the Eagles turned back on and extended their lead.
There was another moment of hope as Onwas converted an and-one and then Durham made a sweet lay-up to make it a seven point game but the Eagles were drawn into the fouling game and made them to give them a six-point victory.
BBL | Tough loss.
— Caledonia Gladiators (@Cal_Gladiators) April 20, 2023
A tough game from start to finish, as it usually is when it comes to rival matches.
The Gladiators could look to turn to a few things when looking at what cost them this game, the shooting from downtown, the passing, the rebounding, etc. but it is a mix of the lot which cost them the win.
13% from three was dwarved by Newcastle’s 41%, 47 rebounds to the 37 and 24 assists to 18 is poor and something that has to change going into an important playoff campaign.
One more game left in the season before the playoffs where the team look to add more silverware, we host the London Lions on Sunday in a BBL/WBBL double header.