- National Teams
It was an almost perfect weekend for Newcastle Eagles as they moved clear of their rivals and booked a spot in the semi-finals of the BBL Trophy.
They began with a convincing 104-81 success over Leicester Riders at Sport Central in the pair’s first meeting of the season. Darius Defoe top scored for the Eagles with 22 points and 11 rebounds with five other players hitting double figures including Charles Smith and Stuart Thomson, who both added 12 from the bench. The Riders were led by TrayVonn Wright’s 18 points with a 37-22 second quarter a decisive factor.
In Sunday’s quarter-final clash, Fab Flournoy’s side made it 12 straight wins over Glasgow Rocks as they knocked out last year’s finalists with an 88-70 win at the Emirates Arena. Andre Jones had a game-high 20 points as the visitors ensured their place in another semi-final. Player-coach Sterling Davis stepped up for his team with 19/10, but it proved a routine win for the 2012 winners.
Worcester Wolves lost ground in the title race after they were beaten 89-75 at Cheshire Phoenix, who had three scorers with 20+. Demond Watt led the way with 25 points, with Dustin Salisbery adding 23 and Taylor King producing a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double, while Mike DiNunno returned from a reported team suspension. Robert Thurman led the Wolves resistance with 14 points and 12 rebounds, but the visitors were outscored in every quarter on their way to a 5th league loss. Paul James’ side had enjoyed a comfortable 74-48 rout at home to Bristol Flyers on Friday with Alex Owumi top scoring with 20 points as their opponents shot below 30% from the field.
Leicester bounced back from Friday’s defeat with a 98-85 home win against Sheffield Sharks. Tyler Bernardini scored a game-high 25 points to lead the hosts, while Rashad Hassan continued his fine form with a dominant 17-point, 17-rebound double-double. Neil Watson dished out 12 assists to compliment his 12 points. For the Sharks, they battled on without Mike Cook and were down by one at the half before falling away. Mike Tuck had 24 points.
It was a mixed weekend for London Lions as they split two overtime battles. Leeds Force came away from the capital with a 69-64 victory beyond regulation on Friday night to move level on points with 11th placed Plymouth – even without Will Hall. The visitors overturned a 9-point deficit heading into the final quarter to force the extra period at 56-56. Branimir Mikulic led Force with 16 points in nearly the full 45 minutes of action, while Drew Sullivan had 15 points and 11 rebounds for London. On Sunday, the Lions needed OT again as they outlasted Sheffield 83-80 with Lovell Cook dropping a weekend-high 34 points on 6-10 shooting from downtown.
Plymouth Raiders are the third team into the last four after they defeated Surrey United 86-77 on Saturday. Six players reached double figures with Gareth Murray top scoring with 18 points and fellow GB international Ben Mockford adding 16 from the bench. January’s Player of the Month Jordan Clarke weighed in with a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds. As for the visitors, Anthony Downing led the way with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, while Kramer Knutson had 20 points and 15 boards.
Manchester Giants enjoyed a double-winning weekend as they followed up an 81-76 road win at Bristol, despite 20 points apiece from Greg Streete and Doug McLaughlin-Williams, with a 72-61 win at home to Leeds. Devin Grimes made an instant impact on his home debut and finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds as well as 4 steals with Ingus Bankevics adding 15 points in Sunday’s victory. The visitors were within two heading into the final quarter, but were unable to make it 2/2 for the weekend. Sam Attah and Mikulic top scored with 15 each.
BBL Trophy Semi-Finals:
Newcastle Eagles v Plymouth Raiders; Leicester Riders v Sheffield Sharks/London Lions
Friday– London Lions 64-69 Leeds Force (OT); Newcastle Eagles 104-81 Leicester Riders; Worcester Wolves 74-48 Bristol Flyers. Saturday– Leicester Riders 98-85 Sheffield Sharks; Bristol Flyers 76-81 Manchester Giants; (BBL Trophy) Plymouth Raiders 86-77 Surrey United. Sunday– Sheffield Sharks 80-83 London Lions (OT); Cheshire Phoenix 89-75 Worcester Wolves; Manchester Giants 72-61 Leeds Force; (BBL Trophy) Glasgow Rocks 70-88 Newcastle Eagles.
STANDINGS: Eagles 20-2, Wolves 19-5, Riders 17-4, Phoenix 16-6, Lions 12-9, Sharks 10-13, Giants 10-14, Rocks 9-10, Wildcats 8-14, Flyers 8-17, Raiders 6-14, Force 6-19, United 4-18
STAR 5: Andre Jones, Tyler Bernardini, Lovell Cook, Darius Defoe, Rashad Hassan (6th man- Ben Mockford)