- National Teams
Check out our latest round-up as Newcastle Eagles’ charge towards another clean sweep rolled on with two more victories added to their streak this weekend, and Plymouth Raiders boosted their hopes of making the top eight.
The BBL Cup and Trophy champions were without both Fab Flournoy and Andre Jones, but were still able to record comfortable victories to move ever closer to another league title. Surrey United started well at Sport Central, but inevitably were unable to sustain their challenge and Newcastle inflicted a 101-62 defeat on the basement side with three double-doubles in the win. Andrew Thomson had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Darius Defoe added 19 and 15 and Charles Smith put up 15 and 10. As for the visitors, they were led by Dominique Coleman’s 18 points.
The scoring was again spread for the Eagles as seven players hit double figures in a 117-87 victory at Manchester Giants. Scott Martin top scored with 22 points, while there was 20 for Rahmon Fletcher as the visitors produced a dominant middle period to open up a 30+ lead. The home side edged the final quarter with the damage already done. Ingus Bankevics had a joint game-high 22 points with the Giants facing another battle to make the post-season.
Worcester Wolves recorded a convincing 84-54 win at Leeds Force, on Friday night, but then suffered a defeat in the capital to all but end their title hopes. Leeds had led at the end of the first, but Paul James’ side bounced back with a dominant second quarter (26-5) and never looked back. Jamal Williams produced a game-high 20 points, while young guard Dwayne Camille top scored for the Force with 15 points.
Robert Thurman was again absent on Sunday, as Worcester fell to an 88-70 loss to London Lions. All five starters hit double figures for the hosts as well as Olumide Oyedeji with Drew Sullivan leading the way with 22 points and 12 boards with Zaire Taylor scoring 12 points against his former side. Williams again led the Wolves with 17 points, but they let a 3-point half-time lead slip. It proved to be a double-winning weekend for the Lions as they extend their winning momentum ahead of the playoffs having beaten 8th placed Bristol Flyers 85-63 on the road, the previous day. Lovell Cook top scored with a 23-point haul to deny the hosts the chance to distance themselves in the race for the playoffs.
Leicester Riders are perhaps Newcastle’s only realistic challengers now – with just five losses – as they eased to an eventual 106-86 win at home to Plymouth Raiders, on Saturday. The home side edged away in the final quarter to avoid an upset; bouncing back from their Trophy Final agony in the best way possible. Tyler Bernardini and Rashad Hassan combined for 50 points, while Neil Watson dished out 14 assists to go with his 15 points. Raiders guard Josh Wilcher almost double-doubled after finishing with 22 points and nine assists.
The loss to Leicester split two wins for Plymouth over Durham Wildcats, who have now lost their last ten games. The first came on Thursday as an – run helped them to a 94-87 victory at the Pavilions. Pierre Hampton fired in a 29-point haul, while Ben Mockford netted seven triples for his 21 points and Josh Wilcher added 17 points and nine assists. Player-assistant Ralph Bucci almost recorded the season’s second triple-double after putting up 10 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists in the loss.
On Sunday, Americans Jordan Clarke and Brent Benson returned, while Mockford missed out. Clarke contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds from the bench, while Hampton top scored with 18 points. After being down in double digits at the half, Durham managed to claw back within a single point heading into the fourth, but were not able to use the momentum to their advantage. Puk had 18 points with Chris Jones adding 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and five steals having missed the previous game. Jay Marriott’s side are now three wins behind the coveted top eight.
Cheshire Phoenix still have a chance of a top-two finish after they defeated Glasgow Rocks 77-68, at the Emirates Arena. Dustin Salisbery top scored for the visitors with 22 points with Taylor King produced another double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Rocks recovered from a slow start to restrict their opponents to just six second quarter points and go in level at 32 at half-time. Jonny Bunyan led the hosts with 17 points from the bench, but they would fall away in the second half to suffer a second defeat for the weekend.
On Friday night, Sheffield Sharks edged a close battle at the EIS with a 91-88 victory over Glasgow. BJ Holmes and Mike Tuck contributed 22 points apiece, with Holmes also adding six assists in the win. After a strong start, the hosts were pegged back in the second as the Rocks won the quarter by 20 to lead at half-time. It needed a big final quarter push from the Sharks and they recovered from 9 points down to earn the win.
In a battle at the bottom, Leeds claimed a 76-73 win at Surrey and now have the same record as Durham as they look to hit double figures in the win column in their first season in the BBL. Coleman top scored for the hosts with a game-high 24 points, while Kramer Knutson had 15 points and 15 boards as United missed out on the chance to move closer to finishing off the bottom. The visitors stepped up in the third quarter before holding their nerve late on with James McCann finishing with 23 points.
Results: Thursday- Plymouth Raiders 94-87 Durham Wildcats. Friday- Newcastle Eagles 101-62 Surrey United, Leeds Force 54-84 Worcester Wolves, Sheffield Sharks 91-88 Glasgow Rocks. Saturday- Surrey United 73-76 Leeds Force, Leicester Riders 106-86 Plymouth Raiders, Bristol Flyers 63-85 London Lions. Sunday- London Lions, Durham Wildcats 67-75 Plymouth Raiders, Glasgow Rocks 68-77 Cheshire Phoenix, Manchester Giants 87-117 Newcastle Eagles.
Standings: Eagles 28-2, Wolves 24-7, Phoenix 23-9, Riders 22-5, Lions 18-12, Rocks 15-13, Sharks 15-15, Flyers 12-21, Giants 11-19, Raiders 9-21, Wildcats/Force 8-24, United 5-26
Star 5- Neil Watson, Dustin Salisbery, Pierre Hampton, Andy Thomson, Rashad Hassan
Image Credit: Mansoor Ahmed Photography