- National Teams
The EBL Division 1 title race became a lot clearer this weekend and the playoffs began in EBL Division 3 and 4.
The Reading Rockets took a huge step toward defending their league championship this weekend as they picked up back to back wins over the Hemel Storm and the Tees Valley Mohawks.
In the 85-96 win over Hemel, Josh Wilcher and Gabriel Diaz Morera both top scored for the Rockets with 19 points each.
Bode Adeluola continued his stunning season form for Hemel with 26 points in the loss.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, it has been confirmed that Wilcher will miss the rest of the regular season with a Hernia that needs surgery. The injury was believed to have been suffered in the win against Hemel.
It is hoped that Wilcher may return mid-April for the playoffs as his post-surgery recovery time may be no more than 2 weeks.
Simon Stewart recorder a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds on Sunday to help the Rockets pick up the win against the Tees Valley Mohawks, 81-90.
Coach Pena Garces’ Rockets side now need just two wins from their remaining four league games to secure the EBL Division 1 Championship.
NASSA’s playoff hopes suffered a big blow over the weekend as they went down to both Leeds Carnegie and the Medway Park Crusaders.
NASSA find themselves in 9th place in the league with an 11-12 record.
Medway Park picked up another win the previous day over Team Northumbria, 86-66, with Josh Whyte scoring 24 points, meaning Marc Steutel’s TN side have just 3 games to try and escape their current second-bottom place in the league and potential relegation from EBL Division 1.
There was a shock defeat for the Manchester Magic on Saturday as they went down 92-78 to the Worthing Thunder, with Terrell Bell coming up big for the Thunder scoring 30 points on 62% shooting while grabbing ten rebounds.
Worthing held a 16 point lead at the half and dominated to maintain that lead until the close of play.
“Defensively we just weren’t good enough,” said Magic Head Coach Paul Middleton.
“We allowed too many good shooters too many wide open looks.
“When they get going, you can’t continue to give them wide open looks – we were just too slow to recognise that.”
After pressing for the entire fourth quarter, the Magic could do nothing to overturn the deficit and went down 73-80 on the back of 24 points from Bradford’s Chris McGrew.
The Magic are now unlikely to finish in the top 4 in the league while Bradford sit in joint 2nd place with the Essex Leopards.
Essex secured a delay to Reading’s title celebrations with a 77-70 win over Leeds Carnegie which means that Essex can still mathematically win the title if Reading lose all their remaining four games.
Dough Mclaughlin-Williams and Greg Streete combined for 52 points in Bristol’s 82-78 win over the Leicester Warriors to help the side move into 6th place in the league as the final race for the playoffs begins.
The Leicester Warriors last place finish in EBL Division 1 is now confirmed and the club are more than likely to be relegated to EBL Division 2 for next season.
Bottom place Mansfield Giant’s couldn’t finish the regular season with a win as they went down 69-88 to the Worcester Wolves II on Saturday.
This game marked the first time this season that Mansfield’s RB Clyburn had failed to score over 30 points in a game as he finished with 17.
That win secures a place in the playoffs for the Wolves who will most likely face Huddersfield Heat in the quarter finals.
For the league runners-up Huddersfield it was also a poor finish to the regular season campaign as they suffered a 70-57 loss to London Westside meaning they finish their first season in EBL Division 2 with a 15-5 record and promotion to the EBL’s top flight.
Darren Best had a fantastic weekend as he led the Killimarsh Derbyshire Arrows to back to back wins with 63 points combined over both games as the Arrows defeated Westside, 94-69, and Loughborough, 83-93.
29 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists from Point Guard Josh Johnson led Ipswich to a 64-67 win over the Loughborough Student Riders.
That win means that if Ipswich defeat Brixton in the upcoming fixture between the two sides, then they will secure a 3rd place finish, a place that may yet qualify for promotion to EBL Division 1 this season due to the two EBL Division 1 teams set to go BBL.
It was made clear this weekend as to which was the dominant conference in EBL Division 3 as all four quarter final games were won by teams from the South.
Steven Gayle’s 36 points could do nothing to stop the strong play of the Hackney White Heat as the depth of their squad showed through to secure the 98-109 win and a place against the London Greenhouse Pioneers in the Semi-Finals.
The Pioneers were led by Tyrell Isaacs as they picked up the 93-76 win over the Northants Thunder.
In an intense battle between Karolis Stepanavicius(30) and Phil Brandreth(26), London Lituanica secured a semi-final place with a 92-72 win over the Sefton Stars, while the Solent Kestrels defeated the Birmingham Mets 70-77 to advance to the next stage.
On Friday night, Liverpool forward Chris Bigley said to Hoopsfix that “he didn’t know much about the Bromsgrove Bears, but they were in a lot of trouble.”
He was certainly proved right as a dominating performance from Liverpool on Saturday saw them defeat the Bromsgrove Bears 89-40 with six players scoring in double figures for Liverpool.
They will advance to the semi-finals to meet Oxford Brookes University, who defeated the Cambridge Cats 99-62, with Abdoulaye Sylla scoring 30 points in what was not the most traditional Oxbridge sporting clash.
The Hull Wasps, Jack Daley scored 29 points against the NULC Knights, although it wasn’t enough for the team to pick up the win as they lost 81-78 to Shawn Jamison’s side.
NULC will face BC Medelynas London in the semi-finals after they defeated Middlesex LTBC by 72-53.