- National Teams
Leicester Riders took their winning streak to 11 games in the league to extend the title race, while just two teams remain in the hunt for the all-important 8th spot.
Leicester are doing all they can to keep the title race interesting, even if they are just delaying the inevitable. Three wins in the week took their streak to 11, and it is still mathematically possible for them to win the Championship – providing they win all three remaining games, and the leaders lose all three.
Earlier in the week, Rob Paternostro’s side had also picked up a 109-75 victory at home to Plymouth Raiders – who fielded just five senior players. All of the Riders roster scored, with TrayVonn Wright shooting 9-11 from the field for his 21 points, while Harrison Gamble added a season-high 13 from the bench ahead of their weekend double-header on the road. Firstly, they claimed a 104-87 win at playoff hopefuls Manchester Giants. Neil Watson netted seven triples and dished out 10 assists on his way to 23 points, while Rashad Hassan had another efficient shooting display for his 20-point haul.
On Sunday, in what turned out to be a must-win clash, the Riders ended the unbeaten run of Sheffield Sharks with an 80-72 success at the EIS. Tyler Bernardini netted a couple of dagger 3-pointers on his way to 21 points, while Watson added a further 18 for the visitors. Mike Tuck scored 19 points for the home side, who had won their last eight, including a close fought 73-71 win in the capital over London Lions, two nights before. John Barber had led the way with 16 points as four starters all hit double figures in the absence of Mike Cook. Namesake Lovell Cook had a game-high 20 for the Lions.
Newcastle Eagles are now just one win away from wrapping up another league title (should Leicester not lose in mid-week) after they overcame their injuries and a tough challenge from Leeds Force to win 98-91 in overtime. The Eagles had Rahmon Fletcher back in the side, but Darius Defoe joined the casualty list as they were again forced to play with just six players. Charles Smith again stepped up when called upon, playing the full 45 minutes; scoring 29 points and collecting 12 rebounds. Scott Martin added 21 points, and 13 rebounds, while Andy Thomson had a third double-double with 17 boards alongside 13 points. In what would have been their biggest win in the BBL, Leeds were led by James McCann’s 22 points, while Armand Anebo pulled down 14 rebounds to go with his 18 points.
The race for eighth was narrowed down on Sunday to just two final teams after Manchester ended Plymouth’s slim hopes with a 93-90 win at the Pavilions. Jay Marriott’s side were able to call upon the services of Pierre Hampton, who finished with a game-high 31 points, and Brent Benson again, but were left to rue a costly period that saw their opponents compile a 20-0 run to lead 84-63 in the final quarter. The Raiders did respond with the next 18 points, but their valiant comeback fell short. Ingus Bankevics led the way with 24 pont, while Stefan Gill contributed 20 from the bench and Ben Eaves weighed in with a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double as the Giants moved into eighth, although they still need at least another win to guarantee their post-season spot.
Bristol Flyers still have the head-to-head over the Giants, but now have just one more game to play after they suffered a 97-91 defeat at home to Glasgow Rocks, on Saturday. The hosts produced a strong second quarter, to take control, but saw a six-point lead at the end of the third slip as the Rocks came storming back, helped by a couple of huge three’s from Tommy Freeman. The American scored 22 points from the bench, while compatriot Reggie Middleton also added 22 points along with 10 rebounds and six assists with Tayo Ogedengbe leading all scorers. 19-year-old Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye had 19 points for the Flyers, with two coming courtesy of the below dunk on Rocks player-coach Sterling Davis.
London held on to fifth spot after bouncing back from their home loss to Sheffield by beating Surrey United 89-83. The visitors took control of the game early, before having to survive a late comeback charge from Surrey, who battled back from as many as 30 points down to set up a tense finish. Dominique Coleman scored a game-high 26 points to lead the hosts, with Kramer Knutson completing yet another double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. As for the Lions, Joe Ikhinmwin top scored with a season-high 21 points, as starting bigs Olumide Oyedeji and Makal Stibbins chipped in with 15 points apiece.
Cheshire Phoenix recorded a resounding 91-58 win at home to Durham Wildcats, which included restricting their opponents to just three final quarter points. Demond Watt led five players in double figures with 18 points as David Aliu, 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Adrien Sturt, 12 points and 10 rebounds, added double-doubles. Panos Mayindombe had 12 for the visiting Wildcats, as their losing streak hits the same number. Phoenix still look set for fourth spot, unless Worcester Wolves lose their final three games.
They had moved a step closer to securing a top-3 finish after defeating Glasgow 92-80 at home, on Friday. Chavis Holmes constructed the win with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, with captain Alex Owumi adding a further 19 points to the win as the Wolves continued without Robert Thurman. Davis led the Rocks, without Kieron Achara, with 17 points.
Image credit: Leicester Riders
Results: Friday- Manchester Giants 87-104 Leicester Riders, Newcastle Eagles 98-91 Leeds Force, Worcester Wolves 92-80 Glasgow Rocks, London Lions 71-73 Sheffield Sharks. Saturday- Surrey United 83-89 London Lions, Bristol Flyers 91-97 Glasgow Rocks. Sunday- Sheffield Sharks 72-80 Leicester Riders, Plymouth Raiders 90-93 Manchester Giants, Cheshire Phoenix 91-58 Durham Wildcats.
Standings: Eagles 30-3; Riders 28-5; Wolves 26-7; Phoenix 24-10; Lions 19-15; Rocks 18-15; Sharks 18-16; Giants 12-21; Flyers 12-23; Raiders 10-24; Force 9-25; Wildcats 8-26; United 5-29
Star 5- Reggie Middleton, Neil Watson, Charles Smith, David Aliu, Andy Thomson