- National Teams
The full focus was back on the Championship this week as the title race and playoffs battle continued in our latest BBL round-up.
Newcastle Eagles defeated Glasgow Rocks 96-67 to remain top of the league, in a repeat of this month’s BBL Cup Final. Charles Smith again top scored for the defending champions with 21 off the bench, while Rahmon Fletcher added 19 and there were double-doubles for Scott Martin (15/13) and Darius Defoe (10/13). The visiting Rocks had led 22-17 at the end of the first, but their opponents were rampant thereafter. Kieron Achara had 20 and 11 with three players all finishing with 10 points.
Worcester Wolves continued their run of wins in the league with a hard-fought 78-75 win over Sheffield Sharks. Robert Thurman returned with 17 points in 19 minutes off the bench as the Wolves finished strong having trailed with 2:24 remaining. Chavis Holmes scored 16 and added 9 boards, while the Sharks were led by three players in double figures all coming off the bench with Mike Tuck contributing 12/13.
Following wins for the top two on Friday, Leicester Riders responded with a double-winning weekend. A defensive masterclass set the tone for a convincing 85-46 home win against Durham Wildcats with Tyler Bernardini top scoring with 19 points accompanied by Rashad Hassan’s 18 on a perfect 9-9 from the field. Neil Watson posted a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists. Durham were 2-of-22 from beyond the arc and scoreless for the final 8:04 of the game.
The following day, the Riders survived a fourth quarter comeback from Manchester Giants to win 80-69 on the road. Anthony Rowe continues to gradually return to top form with 18 points from the bench, while TrayVonn Wright had 17 and Bernardini added 9 points and 10 boards. Ben Eaves led the hosts with a big double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds, with Ingus Bankevics top scoring with 16.
There were identical scores on Friday night as the two sides at the bottom of the league, Leeds Force and Surrey United were both beaten 65-53 at home. Bristol Flyers returned to winning ways as they tied their H2H record with Surrey with a controlling win at Surrey Sports Park. Alif Bland stepped up for the visitors with 18 points as both sides struggled to find their range throughout. The hosts were led by Anthony Downing’s 19 points with Surrey unable to make it three straight wins for the first time this season.
Cheshire Phoenix were the victors in Yorkshire to make it 11 straight league victories following their BBL Trophy exit. Five players posted double-figures scores with Taylor King finishing with 13 points and 16 boards. Leeds were led by Will Hall, who collected 15 rebounds to go along with his 23 points with James McCann the only other scorer in double digits with 11.
Sheffield then ended the 11-game league win streak of Cheshire on Sunday, after they came from behind at the half to win 91-85 at the Northgate Arena. Former league MVP Cook scored 21 points from the bench to lead the visitors, while captain Tuck added 17. The Nix were without dynamic duo Mike DiNunno and Demond Watt as King put up 36 points and 12 rebounds having had 26 on 6-7 3-point shooting by half-time.
Glasgow Rocks bounced back from Friday’s defeat by completing the series sweep over Durham Wildcats with an 81-75 win on the road. GB co-captain Achara starred with 16 points and 14 boards, while Reggie Middleton made an impression on debut with 15 points to help his new side climb the table. It proved to be a disappointing weekend for the Wildcats as they lost ground in the playoff race. Fran Urli top scored with 19, while Ralph Bucci had 17/10.
London Lions picked up their 10th league win of the season after a dominant performance on the display saw them beat Plymouth Raiders 89-65. All five starters hit double figures with Makal Stibbins scoring 27 with only two points coming from the bench. Drew Sullivan returned from injury to put up 17, while Zaire Taylor had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in another all-round display. As for the hosts, they were unable to build on last week’s Trophy win against Cheshire, with a poor shooting effort from downtown; making 3-of-21 attempts. Pierre Hampton recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds with Jordan Clarke adding 16, while starters Brent Benson and Gareth Murray finishing a combined 2-19 from the field.
Standings: Eagles 17-2, Wolves 17-4, Riders 16-3, Phoenix 14-6, Lions 10-8, Sharks 9-10, Rocks 8-10, Giants/Flyers 8-13, Wildcats 7-14, Raiders 6-13, Force 5-17, United 4-16
Results: Friday– Newcastle Eagles 96-67 Glasgow Rocks, Worcester Wolves 78-75 Sheffield Sharks, Surrey United 53-65 Bristol Flyers, Leeds Force 53-65 Cheshire Phoenix. Saturday– Leicester Riders 85-46 Durham Wildcats. Sunday– Plymouth Raiders 65-89 London Lions, Durham Wildcats 75-81 Glasgow Rocks, Cheshire Phoenix 85-91 Sheffield Sharks, Manchester Giants 69-80 Leicester Riders.
Star 5– Rahmon Fletcher, Zaire Taylor, Taylor King, Kieron Achara, Makal Stibbins. (6th man- Anthony Rowe).