- National Teams
Newcastle Eagles extended their lead at the top with two victories over the weekend to make it 14 straight league wins in the final weekend’s action before Christmas.
Firstly, they cruised to a 94-56 win at Leeds Force as Scott Martin made 9-9 from the field for a game-high 20 points. Charles Smith and Andy Thomson both added 15 points, as all Eagles players got on the score-sheet. The hosts were led by 12 points from Oliver Hylands as James Banton and Olly England made their BBL bows.
24 hours later, and it was a similar story for the Eagles as eight players hit double figures in a crushing 115-76 win at home to Manchester Giants. Andre Jones top scored with 17 points, while Martin added a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double to cap an impressive weekend. Smith also added 16 from the bench, as did Eddie Matthew in just 10 minutes of action.
London Lions pulled off an impressive 75-70 road win in Worcester on Friday, before losing 84-75 at Cheshire on Sunday in a tough double-header.
The Lions had four starters in double figures against a Wolves side, clearly missing the dominant presence of Robert Thurman. They battled on in his absence with Chavis Holmes dishing out 9 assists to go alongside his team-high 19 points. Worcester were level at 70 at the 2-minute mark, but were kept scoreless in a tight finish a London tied the head-to-head. Rod Brown top scored for the visitors with 18 points, while Drew Sullivan recorded a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Perry Lawson netted a trio of triples from the bench.
On Sunday, the Nix charge continued with an eighth straight league victory with Demond Watt powering his way t another double-double shooting 11-12 from the field for his 25 points, whilst adding 12 rebounds. Taylor King added 24 of his own as the home side battled back from a 9-point half-time deficit to go level on points with second placed Worcester. Zaire Taylor led the Lions with 22 points, but their struggles from downtown (2-18) and at the foul-line (6-17) proved costly.
Manchester would bounce back from the heavy defeat on Saturday to claim the head-to-head series against Durham Wildcats with an 80-69 success. The Giants also overturned a half-time deficit on their way to ending a four-game losing run, paced by 20 points from Ben Eaves. Mike Bernard added 17, Stefan Gill had 14 and David Watts scored 11 for the hosts. Fran Urli had 15 points for the visitors, as they fell out of the top 8 with their 11th defeat of the campaign.
Plymouth Raiders edged closer to the playoff places with a convincing 100-88 win at home to Surrey United. Brent Benson led the onslaught from downtown with eight triples in a 28-point display, while Josh Wilcher dished out an incredible 17 assists to compliment his 20 point haul, and Pierre Hampton had 18. New American signing Jordan Clarke impressed from the bench with 14 points and 14 boards, while GB guard Ben Mockford netted two triples in a 6-point BBL debut.
As for the visitors, they kept the score respectable after falling behind early on. Kramer Knutson hit 30 points, while fellow big Donatas Visockis collected 15 rebounds to go with his 21 points and there was also a double-double for Anthony Downing – with 22 points and 10 assists.
The American went up against his former team for the second time on Friday night as Surrey suffered an 85-56 home defeat to the Leicester Riders. Rob Paternostro’s men returned to action following an almost 2-week rest with a comprehensive victory, led by Pavol Losonsky’s 17 points. Recent recruit TrayVonn Wright added 15, and Tyler Bernardini had 11.
Finally, Sheffield Sharks defeated Glasgow Rocks 69-55 at the EIS on Friday to boost their top 8 hopes. Nick Lewis and Olu Babalola top scored with 17 points each, as both teams were without their generals as BJ Holmes (hand) and JaJuan Smith (hamstring) missed the game through injury. The BBL Cup finalists were led by Kieron Achara’s 15 points as Glasgow were limited to just 21 second half points.
Leicester host Worcester in tomorrow’s BBL TV clash (Tuesday) in the last game before Christmas to decide the Xmas #2.
RESULTS: Friday– Leeds Force 56-94 Newcastle Eagles, Surrey United 56-85 Leicester Riders, Worcester Wolves 70-75 London Lions, Sheffield Sharks 69-55 Glasgow Rocks. Saturday– Newcastle Eagles 115-76 Manchester Giants. Sunday– Plymouth Raiders 100-88 Surrey United, Cheshire Phoenix 84-75 London Lions, Manchester Giant 80-69 Durham Wildcats.
STANDINGS: Eagles 14-1, Wolves 11-4, Phoenix 11-5, Riders 10-2, Lions 9-5, Giants 7-10, Sharks 6-6, Rocks 6-8, Flyers 6-10, Wildcats 6-11, Raiders 5-10, United 3-12, Force 3-13
STAR 5: Josh Wilcher, Brent Benson, Scott Martin, Demond Watt, Kramer Knutson (6th man- Charles Smith).
Thoughts on the week – what stood out for you? Have your say in the comments below..