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Don't be fooled by Newcastle's apparent frailty, says Daniel

Daniel Routledge Posted 20th December 2011 view comments

Last weekend summed up the Newcastle Eagles' season so far for me: a massive blown lead and a clutch victory in the dying seconds.

Newcastle threw away a 13-point fourth quarter lead to lose 94-86 to Worcester Wolves on Friday and suffer their first league defeat of the season. Well, that'll be the one perspective of it.

Personally, I think Tommy Freeman might deserve a little mention for his four three-pointers in just over a minute and 17 points in three minutes. Maybe only an 'off-the-bench' mention obviously.

Stunning rally: Freeman's scoring feats deserved more credit, says Daniel

Stunning rally: Freeman's scoring feats deserved more credit, says Daniel

Unfortunately I wasn't there to witness it, but Paul James was waxing lyrical about the display which paced a stunning 43-point final period by the Wolves.

I know the BBL Team of the Week is done by a complex stats formula and I know he didn't shoot as well for his 23 points in the Wolves' second win of the weekend, but come on, if 26 fourth quarter points off 8-from-9 shooting in a stunning rally away at the previously unbeaten league leaders isn't enough to get you in the top five performers of the weekend....well I'm not sure what Freeman has to do!

Quandary

Anyway, back to the Eagles, who led by as many as 15 and gave up a 23-point swing, which would be amazing were it not such a seemingly regular occurrence these days.

Newcastle seem a little more vulnerable than we are used to seeing, with even a massive lead not a guarantee. But in a tied game with a couple of minutes to go would you bet against them?

Daniel Routledge
Quotes of the week

Against the Rocks they led by 21 at the half, only to trail late on in the game. At Leicester they were 21 back in the second half and again got behind. And earlier in the year they saw a 14-point lead disappear against Sheffield in less than three fourth quarter minutes.

On the plus side they didn't lose any of those games, Leicester held them to a draw in the cup, but the Eagles won the other two.

Which brings me to their second game of the weekend - the 83-73 victory at Guildford on Sunday.

Sat next to PJ in Plymouth we were watching the end of that game on statcast during half-time of Raiders v Rocks and he was starting to think his old team might just do him a favour and beat Newcastle.

It wasn't to be, though, and the Eagles ran out looking like comfortable victors at 10-points, though it was anything but with 80 seconds to go.

And therein is the quandary with Newcastle this season. They seem a little more vulnerable than we are used to seeing, with even a massive lead not a guarantee. But in a tied game with a couple of minutes to go would you bet against them? Not with any money you needed that's for sure.

Belief

That Guildford scenario has been repeated in about half of Newcastle's games this year, including the big comebacks the Eagles mounted against Cheshire and Glasgow. Fact is, down the stretch, they just find a way to get it done.

For any perceived frailty there might be, they've still had their best ever start to a BBL campaign are looking pretty good at Christmas, sitting top of the league, in the Cup final and in the Trophy semis.

For what Newcastle have, which no other team in the league possesses, is that inner belief that no matter what the BBL throws at them, they have faced it before and have the medals to prove it.

As good as Worcester or Plymouth or Leicester might have looked in the first half of the season, until someone proves otherwise, Newcastle are still the benchmark.

That's all for now - Merry Christmas everyone!

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