- National Teams
An action-packed weekend in the BBL saw streaks ended, movement in the playoffs race and one team take a step closer to another showpiece final.
Sheffield Sharks were the form side in the BBL going into the weekend, but saw their 10-game win streak ended in the capital as London Lions recorded an important 90-84 victory at the Copper Box. Alex Owumi netted 20 points in the win with Demond Watt posting a double-double with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting and 11 boards. For the Sharks, they were unable to keep pace with their opponents after an even start, and were led by Mike Tuck’s 24 points, while Brandon Hogg had 21 points, six assists and five steals in the losing effort.
Newcastle Eagles avenged their recent defeat to Worcester Wolves by opening up a seven-point advantage in their BBL Trophy semi-final with a 73-66 victory in the first leg at Sport Central. The home side looked dominant early on after opening up a 27-13 cushion at the end of the first, only to see the visitors peg them back and would go into the fourth all square. However, the Eagles were clinical down the stretch and have the upper-hand to remain on course for yet another final. Charles Smith had 18 points, Andy Thomson finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, and Scott Martin scored 16.
The Eagles then avoided three straight losses in the league by returning to winning ways with an emphatic 66-106 victory away at Bristol Flyers. All five starters finished in double figures for the league leaders, led by Thomson’s 24 points, while Smith had 16 points and 10 rebounds having started in the absence of the injured Darius Defoe for the second game running. Flyers big man Daniel Edozie had a double-double of his own with 15 & 13, but his side were up against it from the start after conceding 36 points in the opening period, although they were without three key imports in Cardell McFarland, Doug McLaughlin-Williams and Tyrone Lee.
Worcester Wolves bounced back from Friday’s Trophy defeat, but needed to dig deep before coming away with a 74-79 success at Manchester Giants. Ingus Bankevics netted 26 points for the home side as they took a four-point lead into the final quarter, but Wolves rallied to take the win, led by 21 points from Jay Couisnard. Spaniard Javier Mugica came up with an all-round stat-line of nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Perris Blackwell had 19 points off the bench.
Meanwhile, Leicester Riders continued their winning run by using a strong second half display as a platform for their 76-91 victory on the road at Cheshire Phoenix. The teams were tied at 39 at the half, but the visiting Riders broke clear in the third to improve to 15-1 in the league. American trio Neil Watson, Tyler Bernardini and TrayVonn Wright all had 19 points in the win for the Riders, while Akeem Ellis paced Phoenix with a game-high 29 points.
Leeds Force claimed an impressive 79-77 win at home to Glasgow Rocks on Friday night after producing a stunning 20-0 spell to turn a 40-51 deficit into a 60-51 lead across the third and fourth quarters. Rob Marsden top scored with 24 points and had 10 rebounds, while Marek Klassen had 18 points, eight assists and seven steals as the home side held on for a timely victory.
However, Force would then fall to a 75-62 defeat away at playoff chasing rivals Plymouth Raiders, who returned to the top eight with their latest triumph. The Raiders were only up by three at the half, but stepped it up in the third quarter to go on to take the win with Daryl Corletto leading the way with 21 points, while Corey Dixon had an 11-point, 13-rebound double-double.
Glasgow bounced back from their loss against Leeds to defeat Surrey Scorchers 88-82 at the Emirates Arena, but were pushed all the way by the Guildford-based side. Kieron Achara ensured his side would not fall to back-to-back losses on the weekend after netting eight of his 30 points in the final quarter to lead the Rocks to victory. Five Surrey players reached double figures with Nick Schlitzer top scoring with 17 points, although it was not enough to halt their current slide.
Results: Friday- Newcastle Eagles 73-66 Worcester Wolves (Trophy SF 1st leg); Leeds Force 79-77 Glasgow Rocks, London Lions 90-84 Sheffield Sharks; Saturday- Bristol Flyers 66-106 Newcastle Eagles; Sunday- Plymouth Raiders 75-62 Leeds Force, Glasgow Rocks 88-82 Surrey Scorchers, Cheshire Phoenix 76-91 Leicester Riders, Manchester Giants 74-79 Worcester Wolves
Standings: Eagles 18-2; Riders 15-1; Wolves 15-7; Sharks 12-7; Rocks 10-10; Lions 9-8; Phoenix 8-13; Raiders 7-13; Force 7-15; Flyers 6-13; Scorchers 5-13; Giants 5-16
Hoopsfix Star 5: Marek Klassen, Alex Owumi, Andy Thomson, Kieron Achara, Demond Watt