- National Teams
Our latest round-up sees the BBL Trophy Final match-up confirmed, while the race for the play-offs continues.
Leicester Riders booked a BBL Trophy Final showdown with Newcastle Eagles after seeing off London Lions in the second leg of their semi-final. With the damage done on home court, the Riders claimed a 91-81 victory in the capital to seal a 171-147 aggregate win. Tyler Bernardini shot 6-8 from beyond the arc for a game-high 24 points. TrayVonn Wright added an efficient 22 points, while Neil Watson dished out more assists than the Lions combined – with 14. The home side were left undone by a strong third quarter from the hosts, falling to defeat despite 23 points from Zaire Taylor.
Meanwhile, Newcastle strengthened their hold on top spot with a 94-68 win at Leeds Force with another all-round team effort. Darius Defoe earned the top scoring honours with 18 points and 10 rebounds as five players hit double figures including Charles Smith and Stuart Thomson who contributed 15 and 12 points respectively off the bench. Darrell Bethune top scored for Leeds with 17 points with Branimir Mikulic adding a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Worcester Wolves survived a late meltdown to beat Plymouth Raiders 86-85 to maintain their slim title hopes. Up by four with 10 seconds to go, Brent Benson converted the and-1 before a turnover gave the Raiders the chance to snatch victory, but for a missed three at the buzzer from Pierre Hampton. Former Plymouth forward Jamal Williams produced a huge double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds, while Robert Thurman top scored with 22 points; adding 10 boards in the process. Hampton had made a hot start for Plymouth with 10-11 from the field before missing his next six shots to finish with a 27-point haul.
Cheshire Phoenix inflicted a second defeat for Jay Marriott’s men with a 102-84 victory, including three double-double performances. Taylor King led the way with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists, while David Aliu had 24 points and 14 boards, and Demond Watt added 18/15. In the absence of Mike DiNunno, American Dustin Salibery dished out 8 assists to compliment his 11 points. For the Raiders, recent signing Derek Elston scored 23 points and Jordan Clarke added 20 as their playoff hopes suffered another blow.
Sheffield Sharks boosted their playoff chances by moving into joint 8th with a 79-70 win on the road at fellow playoff chasers Bristol Flyers. Former league MVP Mike Cook stepped up with 28 points for the Sharks with Mike Tuck shooting 8-10 from the field to add 19 points. The Flyers struggled to recover from their slow start and saw their run of four straight wins come to an end. Doug McLaughlin-Williams netted five triples on his way to a team-high 17 points.
Results: Friday- Worcester Wolves 86-85 Plymouth Raiders, Leeds Force 68-94 Newcastle Eagles. Saturday- Bristol Flyers 70-79 Sheffield Sharks. Sunday- Cheshire Phoenix 102-84 Plymouth Raiders, London Lions 81-91 Leicester Riders (BBL Trophy)
Standings: Eagles 24-2; Wolves 22-6; Riders 20-5; Phoenix 20-8; Lions/Rocks 13-11; Flyers 12-18; Sharks/Giants 11-15; Wildcats 8-19; Raiders 7-18; Force 7-22; United 4-22
Star 5: Neil Watson, Tyler Bernardini, Jamal Williams, Taylor King, Robert Thurman