- National Teams
Only a handful of Championship games were played this weekend as the start of the BBL Trophy took centre stage with the entire first round completed.
With just four league games played this weekend, title challengers Worcester Wolves and Leicester Riders were both made to work hard to keep the pressure on league leaders Newcastle.
Chavis Holmes came up with the go-ahead basket in the final five seconds as Worcester survived a comeback scare to beat Bristol Flyers 69-68 on the road. The home side had recovered from a double-digit deficit and took the lead on a Greg Streete score in the final minute before Holmes came up clutch to deny the Flyers. Mathias Seilund had 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the hosts, who had Alif Bland back after missing their Trophy clash in the capital. Holmes had a game-high 22 points for the Wolves.
Meanwhile, the previous day saw Leicester involved in an overtime battle with Sheffield Sharks before prevailing with an 89-86 victory away from home. The Riders made a strong start, led by the dominant Rashad Hassan who made his first nine shots from the field before going on to finish with a 35-point haul. The home side battled back from as many as 22 points down and were able to extend the game beyond regulation before just falling short of the win.
London Lions became the second team to be victim of a Kieron Achara 3-point game-winner after the GB forward netted a triple in the final four seconds to give Glasgow Rocks an important 89-86 success. The 31-year-old top scored with 23 points in an equal game-high effort along with team-mate Tayo Ogedengbe, who finished with 4/5 from beyond the arc. Zaire Taylor produced an all-round display with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists, but it wasn’t enough to propel the Lions to a 10th league win.
Also, Leeds Force picked up their fifth league win of the season after an impressive display saw them defeat Manchester Giants 85-76 at home. Recent addition Sam Attah continues his strong start for the club with 20 points, while James McCann dished out 9 assists to compliment his 18 points. Ben Eaves had 20 points and 12 boards for the visitors as all five starters hit double figures with only two points coming from the bench as the Giants were left to rue a poor opening to the game.
Worcester Wolves began the defence of their title with another slender victory as they saw off Durham Wildcats on the road with a 86-84 triumph on Sunday.
Durham closed to within a point on three occasions in the final stages, but the visitors held their nerve to book their place in the quarter-finals. Captain Alex Owumi led the way with a game-high 23 points, while new signing Dejan Radojevic added 20 points off the bench as Robert Thurman missed his second game of the weekend. Fran Urli top scored for the hosts with 18 points, while Ralph Bucci (11-9-7) and Chris Jones (12-8-8) both flirted with triple-doubles.
Newcastle Eagles remain on course for another sweep of all four trophies after they avoided an upset at D1 Reading Rockets and came away with a 112-90 win. Alex Zurn led the resistance with a game-high 27 points with four other players hitting double digits as Reading showed they can compete with the best. As for the Eagles, it was another strong display as they began their hunt to add to their BBL Cup triumph achieved last week in Birmingham. They trailed early on, before powering past their lower league opponents as six players scored 12+, led by 26 from Andre Jones.
Plymouth Raiders ended the 10-game winning streak of Cheshire Phoenix after netting 16 triples on their way to a 109-100 victory. Jordan Clarke shot 13-15 from the field on his way to 28 points, whilst adding 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Pierre Hampton was a perfect 5-5 from 3-point range as he finished with 23-8-8, with Brent Benson scoring six triples in 20 points and debutant Gareth Murray added 15. The visitors were led by Taylor King’s 28 points with Demond Watt adding another double-double with 24 points and 14 boards as Phoenix let a 16-point lead slip.
Beaten BBL Cup finalists Glasgow Rocks began their quest to go one better than last year’s Trophy final defeat as they crushed Scottish side Falkirk Fury 112-46. The visiting Rocks shot an impressive 20-36 from 3-point range with seven players reaching double figures, led by Danny Huffor and Tayo Ogedengbe who finished with 19 and 18 points respectively in the rout.
The competition had begun mid-week as London Lions became the first team to reach the last eight stage with an 85-73 victory against Bristol at the Copper Box. In the absence of Drew Sullivan, reigning league MVP Zaire Taylor stepped up with 28 points and 12 rebounds with Makal Stibbins also adding a double-double with 15/10. Rising star Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye led the visitors with 16 points in 21 minutes from the bench.
Surrey United won back-to-back games for the first time this season after holding off a late charge from D1 side Essex Leopards to win 69-64 on Saturday. The visitors were fast out of the blocks to establish a commanding 33-17 lead at the end of the first, but Essex stayed with their superior opponents to keep themselves in position to mount a revival in the final quarter. The game seemed to be done at 64-45 in the fourth before the Leopards compiled a 14-0 run to close within five before a vital three from Korry Callum ended Surrey’s draught. Kramer Knutson tallied a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, with captain Elvisi Dusha finishing with a 20-5-5 all-round display.
Leicester Riders cruised into the next round as they defeated Leeds Force 81-51 at home on Saturday. TrayVonn Wright had 21 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks to lead the Riders with Neil Watson dishing out 13 assists with a few notable alley-oops with his compatriot. Jamell Anderson impressed with a heavily active performance and he finished just shy of a double-double with 15 points and 9 rebounds. The visitors were unable to build on their league win the day before as they shot below 30% from the field and were led in scoring by Sam Attah’s 11 points.
2013 winners Sheffield Sharks were the final team to reach the quarter-finals, on Sunday, after they defeated Manchester Giants 79-76 away from home. BJ Holmes top scored with a game-high 25 points, closely followed by 22 from Nick Lewis, while Steffan Gill led the home side with 16 points.
QF Draw: Rocks v Eagles, Riders v Wolves, Lions v Sharks, Raiders v United.
RESULTS: Wednesday– London Lions 85-73 Bristol Flyers (BBL Trophy). Friday– Leeds Force 85-76 Manchester Giants, Sheffield Sharks 86-89 Leicester Riders (OT), Glasgow Rocks 89-86 London Lions, Essex Leopards 64-69 Surrey United (BBL Trophy). Saturday– Bristol Flyers 68-69 Worcester Wolves, Leicester Riders 81-51 Leeds Force (BBL Trophy). Sunday– Reading Rockets 90-112 Newcastle Eagles, Durham Wildcats 84-86 Worcester Wolves, Plymouth Raiders 109-100 Cheshire Phoenix, Falkirk Fury 46-112 Glasgow Rocks, Manchester Giants 76-79 Sheffield Sharks.
STANDINGS: Eagles 16-2, Wolves 16-4, Riders 14-3, Phoenix 13-5, Lions 9-8, Sharks 8-9, Giants 8-12, Rocks 7-9, Wildcats 7-12, Flyers 7-13, Raiders 6-12, Force 5-16, United 4-15
STAR 5- Chavis Holmes, Zaire Taylor, Tayo Ogedengbe, Jordan Clarke, Rashad Hassan. (6th man- Pierre Hampton).