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Eagles in mauling at hands of Tigers; Sorry start to defence.

Mersey Tigers 80 Newcastle Eagles 58 THE Eagles' championship defence got off to the worst possible start as they were torn apart by the Tigers, writes JEFF KING.

After two tough doubleovertime wins Newcastle looked tired and dispirited as they lacked energy in every facet of their game The Eagles can point to the fact that Trey Moore is still in the USA and they lack a bit of depth without his talents but he was also missing when the Eagles took the other two wins before last night's heavy defeat. There were a catalogue of mistakes, missed shots and turn overs but mostly it was energy and cohesion added to the tiredness was the key.

Head coach Fab Flournoy was a disappointed man, bowed but not defeated after the game as he rallied and challenged his players to bounce back straight back next Friday night at Sport Central when the Glasgow Rocks come to town. Some pundits and experts may point to the huge game that ex-Eagle Andrew Sullivan had against his old team - and Sullivan was indeed key for Tigers - but Flournoy will ignore that and worry about the players he has at his disposal and look forward and not back.

Newcastle did start brightly as the teams exchanged baskets in the first quarter. As ever Joe Chapman showed early for Eagles and started the scoring with Darius Defoe also looking strong. However, with Sullivan igniting his team they started going inside strong and took the advantage away from the visitors to edge the first period 21-19.

After that it was all Mersey as they dominated at both ends of the floor, with the Eagles unable to come up with any real answers. A dramatic 15-0 burst in the middle of the second opened a gap that Newcastle were never able to close throughout the rest of the game.

The second half came and went with little respite for the Eagles, and indeed they were hit from all corners as Tigers showed greater purpose and resolve to close out a huge win that will certainly have the rest of the league looking on in astonishment.

A 22-point loss at any time is not great, but Flournoy and his players have the consolation of knowing that a Championship is not a sprint or decided after one game, it is a marathon six-month slog and hard-work and talent is what is needed. That is Flournoy's ethic and that's what he'll be preaching to his team as they prepare for the battles ahead.

Only a foolish person would write off any side coached and led by the New Yorker, and when Moore gets in and the team regroups the battle-cry will rise and the rest of the league will be on guard for the backlash.

TOP SCORERS NEWCASTLE: Charles Smith 14, Joe Chapman 13, Darius Defoe 11 MERSEY: Andrew Sullivan 26, James Jones 17, David Aliu 13.

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RARE OFF DAY Fab Flournoy couldn't inspire Eagles to victory, his side losing in Liverpool
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 27, 2010
Words:503
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