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The latest round of action saw Worcester and Leicester kept up the pressure on rampant leaders Newcastle while Cheshire moved into the top four with a double-winnning weekend.
John Coffino’s side improved to a 6-5 record with two contrasting victories; the first of which a come-from-behind 86-73 win in Bristol. The Nix were trailing by twelve at half-time before fighting back in the second half and powering past their opponents. Taylor King led the way with 27 points and 12 rebounds while Mike DiNunno (21pts) and Demond Watt (19pts/10rbs) combined for 40 points from the bench. Doug McLaughlin-Williams netted 7/12 from 3-point range on his way to 22 points for the Flyers, but they ran out of steam towards the end.
On Sunday, Cheshire edged Plymouth 104-98 in a high-scoring encounter at the Northgate Arena. DiNunno started this time and produced a joint game-high 25 point haul while October POTM Watt (21pts/13rbs) added another double-double while Julius Hodge had an impressive stat-line with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists as well as 4 steals with the Nix making 12 of 21 shots from downtown. Recent Raiders addition Pierre Hampton led the visitors with 25 points with Brent Benson and Nick George adding 21 and 20 points respectively as the visitors came close to a morale-boosting win having led with just over two minutes remaining.
Worcester also enjoyed a successful double header after beating Manchester 90-81 in Friday’s BBL TV clash, before defeating Surrey 78-62 on the road the following day. The Wolves tied their season head-to-head with the Giants, having lost in Manchester last month, as captain Alex Owumi led the way with 25 points. In the second game, Remi Dibo found his range from downtown with 4/5 3-pointers on his way to 21 points from the bench while Owumi added another 17 points. Kirk Crecco led United’s resistance with 23 points, but the home side saw their losing streak continue despite closing to within three points at 60-63 with 7:16 left.
Ralph Bucci was he hero for the Durham Wildcats after netting a game-winning three at the buzzer to give his side a 70-67 win at home to Manchester. The player-assistant finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists while Fran Urli had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Chris Jones flirted with a triple-double after his 15 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists performance while namesake Callum Jones top scored for the Giants with 15 points alongside Stefan Gill. The visitors led by as many as six in the third, but Durham were quick to hit back and only trailed briefly in the fourth to snap their three-game losing streak despite the absences of Panos Mayindombe and Sam Attah.
League leaders Newcastle recorded their ninth straight win in all competitions with a convincing 103-93 home win against the Glasgow Rocks, on Friday. Charles Smith had a game-high 23 points from the bench while Darius Defoe (17pts/9rbs) and Rahmon Fletcher (15pts/9ast) narrowly missed out on double-doubles. The Eagles stormed clear in the third quarter by taking it 31-16. The visitors were led by GB’s Kieron Achara 22 points and 11 rebounds while JaJuan Smith added 21 – having started the game on fire from beyond the arc – as all five starters reached double figures.
Leicester avenged their defeat at the Emirates Arena earlier in the season by holding on to beat Glasgow 81-78 on the road. Achara had a game-high 26 points whilst pulling down 13 boards but the Rocks would suffer their second straight defeat. Derrick Roland top scored with 17 points for the visitors while compatriot Neil Watson dished out nine assists to go along with his 13 points and Tyler Bernardini added 16 points from the bench including some big shots down the stretch.
Capital side London had to fight for their fifth league win after a spirited display from visiting Leeds Force. Zaire Taylor top scored with 26 points while Drew Sullivan added 18 points for the depleted hosts. Having made a solid start to lead 20-15 at the end of the first, Leeds were outscored 45-24 in the next two periods before mounting a fourth quarter rally. Will Hall had 20 points for the Force while American James McCann added 17 points including a late three which helped the visitors close the gap to four points inside the final minute.
It proved to be a second loss on the weekend for Matt Newby’s side having also lost been beaten 73-58 to fellow BBL new-boys Bristol on Friday. McLaughlin-Williams and Doug Herring top scored for the visiting Flyers with 18 points apiece to help their side to league victory number five in their debut campaign. Alif Bland and the returning Mathias Seilund both added 13 points while Leeds were led by a 16 point haul from McCann.
RESULTS: Friday – Newcastle Eagles 103-93 Glasgow Rocks, Leeds Force 58-73 Bristol Flyers, Worcester Wolves 90-81 Manchester Giants. Saturday – Surrey United 62-78 Worcester Wolves, Bristol Flyers 73-86 Cheshire Phoenix. Sunday – Durham Wildcats 70-67 Manchester Giants, Cheshire Phoenix 104-98 Plymouth Raiders
STANDINGS: Eagles 8-1, Riders/Wolves 7-1, Phoenix 6-5, Lions 5-2, Giants 5-5, Flyers 5-7, Rocks/Wildcats 4-5, Sharks 3-4, Raiders 3-7, United 1-7, Force 1-9.
STAR 5: Mike DiNunno, Alex Owumi, Charles Smith, Ralph Bucci, Kieron Achara
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