- National Teams
There was no doubting the game of the weekend this week as Leicester Riders’ BBL Cup defence came to an end in a gripping quarter-final clash in front of the BBL TV cameras.
Glasgow Rocks snatched an 85-84 win against Leicester Riders to knock out the holders thanks to Kieron Achara’s incredible game-winning three. The GB co-captain was dominant throughout with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks and fittingly had the final say. Danny Huffor netted 5/5 from deep while JaJuan Smith narrowly missed out on the season’s first triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
Tyler Bernardini had 26 off the bench for the Riders including the go-ahead basket in the final quarter as the home side rallied from as many as 20 points down. Neil Watson caught fire from downtown late on with a trio of triples while his free throws put Leicester a point ahead in the final ten seconds before Achara struck. The Rocks finished with 13-24 from beyond the arc and will go on to face Bristol in the semi-finals.
In league action on Friday, Leeds put in an impressive display to beat Durham 70-62 at home having led from tip-to-buzzer for their second Championship win. Branimir Mikulic top scored for the hosts with 19 points with 13 in the opening quarter on 5-5 shooting from the field. Will Hall added 17 points, 9 rebounds and six assists while James McCann had a 13 point, 10 assist double-double including five dimes in the first quarter to orchestrate a strong start. Chris Jones led the visitors with a game-high 27 point haul including 5-6 from downtown.
Surrey followed suit with their first away win of the season, beating Bristol 91-74. Kirk Crecco led the way for United with a 32 point haul, ably supported by Trevor Setty’s 27 points and Kramer Knutson’s 19 points and 13 boards. The Flyers were dealt a huge blow in the build-up to the game with the news that star guard Doug Herring is set to miss between 4-6 months following a knee operation. Surrey took advantage, whilst being an import light themselves with Lavione West officially released midweek ahead of Anthony Downing’s expected arrival, despite facing a fightback from the home side led by Danish international Mathias Seilund, who had 24 points off the bench. Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye also stepped up with a season-best of 17 points whilst dishing out seven assists.
Chavis Holmes (19-6-6) was the Worcester hero with his basket in the final seconds enough to give his side a 78-76 win away at Sheffield. The Sharks had been boosted by new American arrival John Barber and saw their lead peak at 18 points only for their opponents to quickly battle back. Alex Owumi sparked his side with more destruction from beyond the arc, making a total of 5-from-8 for his 24 points despite fouling out midway through the fourth.
Newcastle Eagles responded to Worcester’s win to record a ninth straight league win by beating Plymouth 88-82 the following day. The Raiders put up a brave fight and stayed with the league leaders throughout before Charles Smith delivered two knock-out blows with back-to-back triples late on. The 39-year-old top scored again with 24 points with Andre Jones adding 21. Pierre Hampton led the Raiders resistance with 20 points, 10 rebounds as well as 5 assist while Louis Sayers scored all of 15 points in the first half, from 3-point range.
On Sunday, the Wildcats would bounce back from the disappointing defeat against Leeds to claim the scalp of London Lions with an 80-73 success at the Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre. Fran Urli top scored with 26 points in the full 40 minutes while Ralph Bucci also lasted the course, contributing a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Lions, still short on numbers, were led by Zaire Taylor’s 24 points as they let slip a seven point half-time cushion.
Cheshire Phoenix continued their recent charge after beating Manchester 99-82 away from home to pick up their fifth straight league win. Demond Watt produced a massive double-double with 29 points and 18 rebounds while Mike DiNunno and Taylor King added 20 and 18 points respectively. David Aliu added 14 against his former club with his new side storming clear in the third to distance themselves from the Giants. Incidentally, their own giant – 7’8″ addition Paul Sturgess – did not feature with his debut not expected until December.
RESULTS: Friday – Bristol Flyers 74-91 Surrey United, Leeds Force 70-62 Durham Wildcats, Sheffield Sharks 76-78 Worcester Wolves. Saturday – Plymouth Raiders 82-88 Newcastle Eagles. Sunday – Durham Wildcats 80-73 London Lions, Manchester Giants 82-99 Cheshire Phoenix, (BBL Cup) Leicester Riders 84-85 Glasgow Rocks.
STANDINGS: Eagles 9-1, Wolves 8-1, Riders 7-1, Phoenix 7-5, Lions 5-3, Wildcats/Giants 5-6, Flyers 5-8, Rocks 4-5, Sharks 3-5, Raiders 3-8, United 2-7, Force 2-9.
STAR 5: James McCann, Kirk Crecco, Alex Owumi, Kieron Achara, Demond Watt (6th man – Charles Smith)