- National Teams
In Week 12, the BBL Cup Final was set as Newcastle Eagles and Glasgow Rocks booked their place at next month’s showpiece, while the Eagles moved further clear at the top of the Championship.
Fab Flournoy’s side took a two-point lead into their second leg on Friday and made sure of their spot in the final with an 85-76 home win, against Sheffield. Andre Jones top scored with 21 points in the win to help Newcastle reach their fourth straight BBL Cup Final.
The Eagles then made it 12 straight league wins to extend their lead at the top after beating London Lions 96-82 on the road. Charles Smith netted five triples on his way to a game-high 27 points, while all five starters posted double figures as the visitors pulled away in the second half. Rod Brown led the Lions resistance with 22 points, while Drew Sullivan made 9-10 from the line on his way to 18 points as well as providing nine assists for his team-mates as their own winning run was halted.
Newcastle learnt of their Final opponents hours later as Glasgow sealed their first BBL Cup Final appearance since 2007 with a convincing second-leg display. The Rocks edged a close semi-final opener 77-75 on the road, despite seeing their journey hampered by the NATS computer glitch, which would result in a tip delay of an hour. Greg Steete led the hosts with 23 points.
The second leg was more one-sided as Glasgow came out firing and took the game beyond their opponents by half-time, with a lead of 21 on the night. The Rocks punched their ticket to Birmingham with a resounding 84-57 win with JaJuan Smith top scoring with 19 points, whilst adding 14 rebounds. Danny Huffor added 18 points to follow up his double-double from the first leg and Kieron Achara had 14 points and 12 boards.
Leeds Force claimed their third league win after beating Durham Wildcats for the second time this season, winning 81-70 on Friday night. The home side dominated in the middle period of the game to provide the platform for their success. Branimir Mikulic top scored with 21 points, and pulled down 12 rebounds, with James McCann scoring 14 and dishing out 9 assists, while the returning Will Hall added 13 from the bench. The Wildcats shot nearly 50% from the field, but struggled from deep as they were unable to consolidate their position in the top 8. The trio of Chris Jones, Sam Attah and John Puk all had 14 points each.
Surrey United came out fighting in the second half to deny Leeds an important back-to-back, lifting themselves off the bottom just a day after falling to the foot of the table. Anthony Downing top scored with a game-high 20 points and dished out seven assists to lead the hosts to a 76-65 victory. Kramer Knutson and Kirk Crecco added 13 points apiece, while recent addition Donatas Visockis displayed his threat off the glass by grabbing 10 rebounds. The visiting Force made a solid start and led 36-29 at half-time, but slow starts to each of the final two quarters proved costly. Hall returned to the starting line-up and top scored with 13 points alongside Armand Anebo and Mikulic.
The charge of Cheshire Phoenix met its first real test on Sunday, and they passed with flying colours to beat Worcester 97-86 at the Northgate Arena. John Coffino’s side move into third place with their seventh straight league win, with Leicester Riders not in action this weekend. Taylor King caught fire early on and finished with 27 points containing five triples, while Demond Watt contributed an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double with all five starters reaching double figures. Alex Owumi hit 30 points, but it wasn’t enough for his side as they were unable to recover from falling 18 points down at the end of the first.
The loss was Worcester’s third in the league as they gave up ground on the runaway leaders, having moved level on points at the top on Friday night with an 85-80 home win over Manchester. Robert Thurman continued his dominant form of late with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Owumi poured in 26, and there was also a double-double for Jamal Williams as he added 10 points and 10 boards. The visiting Giants were led by 23 points apiece from Ingus Bankevics and Stefan Gill as their comeback effort fell short.
Durham were confounded to a second loss on the weekend, despite leading by as many as 16 as Sheffield bounced back to win 65-63 on the road. The visitors were without the injured BJ Holmes, but his compatriot John Barber led the way with a game-high 21 points off the bench. Chris Jones narrowly missed out on a triple-double after finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists, but the missed victory will prove a bigger blow.
Plymouth Raiders were another team not in action this week, but they were active after recruting GB guard Ben Mockford and American forward Jordan Clarke.
RESULTS: Friday – Leeds Force 81-70 Durham Wildcats; Worcester Wolves 85-80 Manchester Giants; (BBL Cup) Newcastle Eagles 85-76 Sheffield Sharks (162-151 on aggregate); Bristol Flyers 75-77 Glasgow Rocks (1st leg). Saturday – Surrey United 76-65 Leeds Force. Sunday – Durham Wildcats 63-65 Sheffield Sharks; London Lions 82-96 Newcastle Eagles; Cheshire Phoenix 97-86 Worcester Wolves; (BBL Cup) Glasgow Rocks 84-57 Bristol Flyers (161-132 on aggregate).
STANDINGS: Eagles 12-1; Wolves 11-3; Phoenix 10-5; Riders 9-2; Lions 8-4; Rocks 6-7; Giants 6-9; Wildcats/Flyers 6-10; Sharks 5-6; Raiders 4-10; United 3-10; Force 3-12.
STAR 5: JaJuan Smith, Anthony Downing, Charles Smith, Taylor King, Demond Watt (6th man- John Barber)
Thoughts on the week – what stood out for you? Have your say in the comments below..