Meanwhile, in the BBL Championship, only Hayden Lescault catching fire in the closing minutes could separate Glasgow Rocks and Leeds Force, as the Rocks moved back into joint-third place with a 71-65 road win.
BBL Cup, Quarter Final
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 95 (24,48,73) (Jackman 26, Defoe 18, Flournoy 11)
Cheshire Phoenix 84 (21,45,62) (Brown Jr 42, May-Thompson 17, Mosley 9)
A strong second half performance, in which Orlan Jackman was dominant, saw Esh Group Eagles Newcastle into the BBL Cup semi-finals as a 95-84 defeat of Cheshire Phoenix set them in pursuit of a third consecutive title.
Jackman scored 26 points, shooting 90% – missing only once – including a perfect 5/5 from three-point range, and snatching seven rebounds. Phoenix were over-reliant on Earl Brown Jr, whose huge haul of 42 points is the highest for any player in the BBL so far this season.
In a tight first half, five points in a row from Brown Jr gave the visitors an edge at 33-31 after six first quarter points from Darius Defoe – who finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds – had put Newcastle in the ascendancy.
But a big score from Jackman just before the half put Eagles in front for good, sparked by an ‘and-one’ play as he hit six in a row and they led 48-45 after a high-scoring half, between two of the league’s highest-scoring teams.
Defoe scored another six in an 8-2 opening to the third period, and the Eagles took what proved to be an unassailable lead when Jackman netted seven in a row to send it into double-figures at 68-57. And Newcastle were never going to let that sort of advantage slip on their home floor as, in the fourth quarter, Jackman hit back-to-back three-pointers to see the lead reach its peak at 89-71 after eight unanswered points.
It is the second year in a row that Eagles have knocked Phoenix out of the BBL Cup en route to the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, and they have featured in all of the last five finals.
BBL Championship
Leeds Force 65 (15,36,51) (Isenbarger 17, Sanders 15, Sandoval 13)
Glasgow Rocks 71 (20,36,52) (Lescault 17, Achara 14, Thomson 10)
Glasgow Rocks have re-joined London Lions in joint-third place in the BBL Championship after edging Leeds Force 71-65 on the road, with only a last gasp Hayden Lescault burst being able to separate the teams.
He led all scorers with 17 points, including the last ten for his team down the stretch, and was supported by another solid Kieran Achara performance of 14 points and 7 rebounds. It was a sixth straight win for the Rocks, a run that started by knocking Leeds out of the BBL Cup, and they have now won nine of the ten meetings between these teams in the BBL.
The start of the game would provide no clues as to what would come as the teams exchanged furious runs: Rocks racing into a 10-0 lead as they held the hosts scoreless for the opening four minutes; before Leeds emerged from a timeout to respond with the next eight, sparked by a Jack Isenbarger three-pointer.
A 13-3 start to the second stanza, in which Robert Sandoval scored seven, gave Force their biggest lead of the game at 28-23, but once Rocks got it back to 30-29 soon after on Lescault’s triple, the nature of the game changed.
From that point, midway through the second stanza, the teams were never separated by more than one shot until the final minute. As they traded baskets throughout, the second half saw twelve lead changes and the teams tied on seven occasions, until Lescault took over.
He broke that spell with a three-pointer with 3.29 to play and went on to hit nine consecutive points to give Rocks a 62-70 lead inside the final minute, winning the game for his team and keeping the BBL’s northernmost side unbeaten on the road this season.
P   PL W L Pts
1 Leicester Riders 8 8 0 16
2 Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 8 7 1 14
3 Glasgow Rocks 7 6 1 12
3 London Lions 7 6 1 12
5 Plymouth University Raiders 7 4 3 8
6 DBL Sharks Sheffield 9 4 5 8
7 Worcester Wolves 8 3 5 6
8 Cheshire Phoenix 7 2 5 4
8 Leeds Force 7 2 5 4
10 Surrey Scorchers 11 2 9 4
11 Bristol Flyers 5 1 4 2
12 Manchester Giants 6 0 6 0