- National Teams
Check out our latest round-up of all the action across the four divisions of the NBL as the titles are wrapped up in D1 & D2, while the playoffs reach the semi-final stages in D3 & D4.
Essex Leopards (18-5) wrapped up the D1 title with an 84-72 victory over their remaining challengers, Team Northumbria (15-7). Albert Margai and American Byron Richards led the way with 22 points apiece as the Leopards secured top spot. The day before, they battled back from six down at the half to beat Leicester Warriors (9-14) 77-58 on the road, behind David Ajumobi’s 20 points. Northumbria were beaten 91-70 at Reading Rockets (15-8) the day before as 29 points from Danny Carter dented their hopes. Marc Steutel’s side bounced back from their double disappointment with an 84-81 victory against Tees Valley Mohawks (8-15) in midweek and remain on course for a top-two finish with several teams in the hunt.
Derby Trailblazers (16-7) currently occupy second place after they claimed a 108-99 victory at Worthing Thunder (10-13) with Chris Shalvoy (pictured) scoring 27 points in the win. Dan Watts and Raheem May-Thompson both added 22 points, while Milton Chavis had a game-high effort of 32 points for the hosts, who still need to seal their spot in the playoffs. Kent Crusaders (16-7) have an equal record to Derby after they battled hard to pull off two wins over the weekend. On Saturday, they were down 10 heading into the fourth before beating Tees Valley 69-66 with Josh Steel top scoring with 17 points. Kent then needed overtime on Sunday to see off Leicester as Karolis Kundrotas scored 19 points from the bench including the game-winner.
Manchester Magic’s winning stretch continued as they too chase a top-two finish as they survived a late fightback from Bradford Dragons (10-14) to win 89-87 with Ellis Cooper starring with 29 points. The Dragons finished their regular season campaign and were assured of a playoff spot following Tees Valley’s defeat to Northumbria. Also, Westminster Warriors (5-18) claimed a 68-65 win at NASSA (4-19) in a basement battle.
The playoffs quarter-finals are set after the regular season concluded last weekend. London Lituanica (21-1) claimed the title after beating Lancashire Spinners (19-3) 119-77. Aušridas Petraitis led the way with a 35-point haul in the title showdown. Ipswich Basketball (15-7) claimed back-to-back third place finishes after they recorded two wins on the final weekend with a 97-41 success at London United (3-19) followed by a 93-77 road win at Eastside Eagles (6-16).
Loughborough Student Riders (14-7) were already assured of a top-four finish and they also beat Eastside to end on a high with Jerelle Okoro top scoring with 18 points. London Greenhouse Pioneers (12-9) will be their opponents in the playoffs after they signed off their regular season campaign with two wins after beating Birmingham Mets (6-16) 76-58, and Derbyshire Arrows (12-10) 90-66. The Arrows were also beaten 70-65 the day before by London Westside (8-14) despite 32 points from Chris Dixon. London Westside also ran out comfortable 96-74 winners over Worcester Wolves II (5-17) to secure their playoff spot, while Brixton Topcats (10-12) also defeated Worcester with a 78-63 success.
Quarter-finals: Lancashire Spiners v Brixton Topcats; Ipswich Basketball v Derbyshire Arrows; Loughborough Student Riders v London Greenhouse Pioneers; London Lituanica v London Westside
Three teams from the South division make up the semi-finalists with Liverpool the sole representatives from the North. The division champions saw off Team Solent with a 94-79 victory, led by 24 points from Jack Hudson and 23 from Chris Bigley. In the semi-finals, Liverpool will meet Thames Valley Cavaliers after they defeated Newcastle Under Lyme College Knights 110-101 in a high-scoring encounter. Kieran Jones had 28 points for the visitors, but it was Phil Perre who stole the show with a game-high 39 points.
Meanwhile, Solent Kestrels overcame a six-point deficit at the half to beat City of Sheffield Saints 91-71 with Louie Kirkman going off in the second half to finish with 32 points and 12 rebounds. The D3 South champions next face Plymouth Raiders II after they defeated Nottingham Hoods 79-71 on the road with Jason Carr top scoring with 19 points with reports suggesting a promotion to the club’s BBL side for him next season.
Semi-finals: Liverpool v Thames Valley Cavaliers; Solent Kestrels v Plymouth Raiders II
The unbeaten run of D4 North, and National Shield champions, Team Newcastle University came to an end as they were beaten 87-82 by Barking & Dagenham Thunder. Maurice Cole led the hosts with 25 points, but it was a combined 50 points from Palmer and Marlan Henry saw their side advance to the semi-finals. They will face College of West Anglia Fury in the semi-finals after they defeated the D4 South-East champions Brunel Ducks 91-82 thanks to an opening 26-10 quarter with Eivydas Aleska finishing with 28 points.
Doncaster Danum Eagles avenged their recent loss to Loughborough Student Riders II, which ended their perfect record, with a 106-77 triumph behind a 38-point haul from Matthew Martin. The D4 East Midlands winners advance to the last four where they will take on unbeaten Oxford Brookes University after they claimed a 95-81 home win over Myerscough College Giants with Abdoulaye Sylla dropping 40 points.
Semi-finals: Barking & Dagenham Thunder v College of West Anglia Fury; Oxford Brookes University v Doncaster Danum Eagles
Image credit: Derby Trailblazers