Report: Bristol Flyers 86-73 Newcastle Eagles
Sunday, November 4th 2018
Bristol Flyers picked up their fifth league win in a row clipping the wings of the visiting Newcastle Eagles to go joint top of the BBL Championship.
Fred Thomas led all scorers with 27 points on 67% shooting from the floor, whilst Justin Gray made an impactful return from injury with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Thomas had the hot hand right from the start and poured in six quick points for Flyers. Jalan McCloud followed with four points of his own on quick-footed drives. Eagles were able to pull ahead behind sharp shooting from Kai Williams, but Coach Kapoulas made a series of substitutions and the re-energised Flyers got back to work.
Tevin Falzon and Gray both brought scoring from the bench, while Thomas fuelled the fire with a trip to the free throw line and then a three-pointer to close the quarter. Flyers built a solid foundation with a 29-18 lead after the first ten minutes.
A difficult start to the second quarter saw Flyers held scoreless for two minutes until Thomas was able to get back to the free throw line and sink both. Points in the paint from Eagles big man Darius Defoe cut the Flyers’ lead to just two points. Bristol attacked the glass relentlessly after multiple misses and continued to draw fouls to make easy points at the line.
Defensive stops including a block from Falzon allowed Flyers to get back on track. Falzon followed with a timely three-pointer at the other end. Having survived the Eagles’ run, Flyers managed to extend their lead, going into half time up 50-36 with Thomas having contributed a huge 20 points of his own in the first half.
Eagles’ Jeremy Smith heated up in the second half, scoring eight points in a row to see the Flyers’ lead drop into single figures. Gray, Falzon and Thomas all scored three-pointers to make sure Flyers stayed on top. Lewis Champion struggled to score, but did well distributing the ball, totalling six assists in the game. One of his dimes was a sweet pass inside for a thunderous two handed dunk from Marcus Delpeche after disrupting the defence with dribble penetration.
Delpeche remained active around the basket early in the fourth, grabbing an offensive rebound from a missed free throw and laying it back in. Eagles tightened up their defence and were able to find stops, but Bristol matched their intensity to ensure they were not able to convert on offence.
With the clock against them, Eagles had to resort to fouling to get possession back quickly and McCloud calmly sealed the game with a series of made free throws over the final two minutes. Thomas scored the last points of the evening on a spectacular fast break where he and McCloud unselfishly shared to ball until he was able to make a strong finish over contact from Eagles player coach Fab Flournoy.