- National Teams
2015 began with seven BBL league games with the top four all winning including a back-to-back for the Riders, while Leeds lifted themselves off the bottom.
Leicester Riders moved back into third place with a double-winning weekend to keep the pressure on the top two, who both picked up victories. Neil Watson led his side to two victories with an astounding 30 assists, while Rashad Hassan was one benefactor after amassing a combined 51 points.
Leicester began with a comfortable 74-54 win at home to Leeds Force with Watson dishing out 17 dimes, and Hassan top scoring with 20 points. TrayVonn Wright produced an all-round display with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocks, while Conner Washington also reached double-figures with 13 on 3-3 shooting from beyond the arc. Will Hall led the Leeds resistance with 15 points and 11 rebounds as the only player to hit double-digits for the visitors.
The Riders’ perfect weekend was completed in the capital as they avenged a recent defeat to London Lions with a 91-76 victory at the Copper Box Arena. Hassan was dominant with 31 points – his second 30+ haul of the season – with Tyler Bernardini stepping up with 19 points. Jamell Anderson added 14, and Anthony Rowe had his most productive game of the season with 9 points and 7 rebounds in an encouraging sign of his rehabilitation. Makal Stibbins led the Lions with 22 points.
Matt Newby’s side pulled off an impressive win on the road 24 hours previously after snapping the streak of Sheffield Sharks with a 62-60 triumph. James McCann nailed a clutch triple in the final minute to edge Force ahead, before the visitors sealed the win from the free throw line. New signing Sam Attah top scored with 21 points on 8-9 shooting from inside the arc, in just under 22 minutes of action on debut. Nick Lewis top scored for the hosts with an 18-point haul.
Newcastle Eagles extended their impressive streak to 19 consecutive wins in all competitions with a 97-76 victory away at Surrey United, despite a slow start. Scott Martin produced a game-high 28 points, with Andrew Thomson adding an efficient 19 and Rahmon Fletcher had 14 on 85% FG shooting along with 9 assists.
However, it was the home side who made the brighter start to lead 24-19 at the end of the first. And despite trailing at half-time, Jack Majewski’s side were still within striking distance during the third, before the Eagles stormed clear and never looked back. Kramer Knutson led Surrey with another double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds, with captain Elvisi Dusha making 4/8 from downtown for his 16 points.
Worcester Wolves kept up the pressure on runaway league leaders Newcastle with an important 95-90 victory on the road against Plymouth Raiders. Jamal Williams top scored against his former side with 21 points, while there were valubale contributions from Chavis Holmes (19pts/9rbs/7ast) and Paul Guede (17-8-4), as well as a welcome return from injury for Robert Thurman – who recorded 14 points, 9 boards and 5 blocks. Alex Owumi added 10 points, and in scoring his first basket became the all-time leading scorer for the Wolves after surpassing Anthony Paez.
As for the Raiders, Ben Mockford netted six triples on his way to a game-high 22 points, with support coming from Brent Benson and Pierre Hampton, who added 18 and 17 points respectively. There were double-doubles for Jordan Clarke (16pts/12rbs) and Josh Wilcher (11pts/11ast) as the hosts missed the opportunity to close on the top eight.
Cheshire Phoenix took their win streak to nine consecutive games after Mike DiNunno led his side to a 93-75 win over Manchester Giants with a 36-point haul. Prior to the game, Cheshire finally confirmed that they had dismissed former NBA player Julius Hodge for ‘a series of misconduct related incidents’ , with the situation becoming a hot topic across the league following a series of tweets from the American. On the court, Phoenix took care of business – closing the game in style after a couple of 3-pointers from Martyn Gayle gave the Giants hope before they briefly took the lead in the final quarter. David Aliu scored 15 against his old club, while the visitors were led by Ben Eaves’ 17 points.
Durham Wildcats returned to winning ways in a playoff battle with Bristol Flyers as they came out on top at home with a 77-72 success to go joint eighth with their opponents. The Wildcats also claimed the head-to-head after withstanding a late charge from the visitors. Chris Jones top scored for the hosts with 23 points, with Greg Streete producing a game-high 27-point effort for Bristol, who were without American guard Bree Perine.
RESULTS: Friday– Sheffield Sharks 60-62 Leeds Force. Saturday– Surrey United 76-97 Newcastle Eagles, Leicester Riders 74-54 Leeds Force. Sunday– Durham Wildcats 77-72 Bristol Flyers, Plymouth Raiders 90-95 Worcester Wolves, London Lions 76-91 Leicester Riders, Cheshire Phoenix 93-75 Manchester Giants.
STANDINGS: Eagles 16-1, Wolves 14-4, Riders 12-3, Phoenix 12-5, Lions 9-7, Sharks 8-7, Giants 8-11, Wildcats/Flyers 7-11, Rocks 6-9, Raiders 5-12, Force 4-15, United 3-15
STAR 5– Neil Watson, Mike DiNunno, Jamal Williams, Scott Martin, Rashad Hassan (6th man- Sam Attah)