- National Teams
The opening weekend of the 2014-15 BBL season saw Bristol Flyers begin their debut BBL campaign in perfect fashion with a double-winning start.
Also flying high are Leicester Riders, who join Bristol at the top with two wins out of two, while five teams including the defending league champions Newcastle Eagles are yet to taste victory.
Rightly so, the weekend headlines belong to Bristol. New to the league and wasting no time in making a strong impression. Opening their season to a sell-out crowd at the SGS Wise Arena, Andreas Kapoulas’ side edged out local rivals Plymouth with a 65-56 victory before pulling off a 79-62 upset in Glasgow less than 24 hours later.
Doug McLaughlin-Williams top scored in both outings and shot the ball well from 3-point range – a combined 8-17 – while new import Doug Herring Jr produced two all-round displays including 18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in Sunday’s win. As for Glasgow, rookie forward/centre Paul Egwuonwu led the way with 15 points but the Rocks were restricted to just 20 second-half points.
The opening night saw a top of the table clash from last season as league champions Newcastle hosted the double-winning Worcester Wolves. The teams were level heading into the fourth but it was the visitors who pulled off an impressive road win with Robert Thurman announcing himself to the BBL in style with 27 points and 13 rebounds.
Elsewhere, on Friday night, Sheffield started their season with a home opening victory as they eased past Durham Wildcats 83-70 led by 20 points from the bench from new signing Allen Payne. Tom Knight recorded a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds for the visitors, who would recover on Sunday to thrash new-comers Leeds Force 80-46 at home.
The final game on Friday saw London Lions defeat Surrey 89-73 on the road despite the absences of last season’s MVP Zaire Taylor and fellow American Lovell Cook. One import was available and Makal Stibbins made a strong start to his BBL career with 27 points and 12 rebounds, ably supported by returnees Adrien Sturt and Joe Ikhinnmwin – who added 18 and 15 points respectively.
Kramer Knutson added 18 points and 11 rebounds against his former team but it wasn’t enough for Surrey, as they got off to another poor start to the season. On Sunday – in the first BBL TV game of the season – they travelled to Plymouth and suffered a 94-74 defeat. This time, Trevor Setty was going up against his former side and despite top scoring with 20 points, it wouldn’t be enough as the Raiders powered home in the end, led by player-assistant David Evans’ 27 points from 6-6 shooting from downtown.
Saturday saw Leicester begin their campaign with a 104-82 victory at home to Manchester after using a strong third period to storm clear of their opponents. New additions Tyler Bernardini and Neil Watson combined for 49 points in the victory and the duo would lead the way again the following day with 16 points apiece to help the Riders to a 65-59 road win against Cheshire – despite having led by 18 at half-time. Demond Watt led the ‘Nix resistance with an impressive 21 points and 17 rebounds.
The final game on Sunday saw Manchester bounce back from their opening defeat by beating Sheffield 76-72 in a close-fought encounter at their new venue. A 16-4 start to the fourth was vital and the Giants were able to keep their composure down the stretch. Stefan Gill had a game-high 24 points while 20-year-old Connor Murtagh impressed from the bench with 12 points and 7 rebounds as both sides finish the opening weekend with 1-1 records.
Week 1 Results – Friday: Sheffield Sharks 83-70 Durham Wildcats; Newcastle Eagles 81-86 Worcester Wolves; Surrey United 73-89 London Lions. Saturday: Bristol Flyers 65-56 Plymouth Raiders; Leicester Riders 104-82 Manchester Giants. Sunday: Durham Wildcats 80-46 Leeds Force; Plymouth Raiders 94-74 Surrey United; Glasgow Rocks 62-79 Bristol Flyers; Cheshire Phoenix 59-65 Leicester Riders; Manchester Giants 76-72 Sheffield Sharks.
Star 5: Neil Watson, David Evans, Doug McLaughlin-Williams, Demond Watt, Robert Thurman