Newcastle Eagles lost 82-74 against Mersey Tigers before being presented with the BBL Championship.
The Eagles started brightly at Sport Central with Darius Defoe causing problems on his way to 21 points and 15 rebounds.
They were also boosted by the energy of Paul Gause who looked intent on making up for fouling out against Plymouth last week.
Eagles led with just eight minutes remaining but last season’s champions pushed on to spoil the party.
Joe Chapman’s 23 points were not enough for the Eagles as Myles Hesson, Sam Cricelli, Matthew Otten and David Aliu all made double figures for Mersey.
Eagles’ player/head coach Fab Flournoy said: “We were just awful tonight. We didn’t have the focus we needed and the execution both defensively and offensively.
“No excuses but we were thinking about the league celebration, and the Tigers had something else on their mind.”
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