- National Teams
Of the 11 teams that began their 2018-19 campaigns, only three survived the opening weekend with 100% records in tact. Here is a recap of all the action, complete with highlights and quotes:
Sheffield Sharks vs Manchester Giants
Manchester Giants finished second bottom last season, but they made an encouraging start to the new season with an impressive 87-92 triumph at DBL Sharks Sheffield.
The Giants kept pace with the Sharks for the entirety of the contest and took the lead during the closing stages to send the travelling fans home with plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the season ahead.
“I thought Manchester did a great job, credit to Manchester,” Sheffield Head Coach Atiba Lyons commented.
“From our standpoint, I thought we weren’t consistent in what we did offensively or defensively. I didn’t like the guys energy or attitude, too woe is me, we gotta be tougher than that.”
American Torry Butler top scored with 19 points, while fellow new recruit and countryman Mike McCall added 17 and Callum Jones 16 for Manchester.
Dirk Williams had a 25-point, 9-rebound outing to lead Sheffield, whilst Chris Alexander added 16, and Sedale Hanson-Young had 9.
Newcastle Eagles vs Cheshire Phoenix
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle held off Cheshire Phoenix for an opening night 70-65 victory with Rahmon Fletcher handing out 10 assists in the win.
Newcastle maintained a constant lead throughout the contest, but never pulled away as the visitors remained within reach. They tied the game in the fourth before Kyle Williams hit consecutive threes and the Eagles were able to hold on down the stretch.
Rahmon Fletcher marked his return with a double-double of 14 points and 10 assists, while Darius Defoe top scored with 18 points off the bench for Newcastle.
Meanwhile, Jimario Rivers had one of the stat lines of the weekends with 17 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in the loss for Cheshire.
Worcester Wolves vs Plymouth Raiders
The Wolves got off to a winning start on Friday night as Robert Crawford’s 28-point outing inspired a 93-81 success as Paul James made a losing return to Worcester.
The home side – still waiting on two summer recruits – finished strong as Ty Shaw started his reign as head coach with victory. Plymouth took the lead at 76-77 with 4:05 remaining before the Wolves hit three triples in a 11-0 run to take control and were able to close out the victory.
Robert Crawford made himself an instant fan favourite at the University of Worcester Arena with a stunning 28-point haul including 8 of 11 from 3-point range, as Adam Thoseby and Jordan Whelan had 17 and 16 points respectively in their Worcester debuts.
Donte Nicholas had 22 to lead Plymouth, and Jamal Williams 14.
London Lions vs Glasgow Rocks
The Lions were dominant at the Copper Box on Friday night with Brandon Peel putting up 23 points and 16 rebounds to lead his side to a crushing 100-66 win over Radisson RED Glasgow Rocks.
The home team took control of the contest either side of half-time – going on a 10-0 run entering the half time break – to earn what turned out to be a routine win on opening night.
Newcomer Ladarius Tabb showed off his athleticism on his way to 20 points, whilst reigning MVP Justin Robinson added 17.
For Glasgow, Bouna Ndiaye had 13, Kieron Achara 12, and Jonny Bunyan 11.
Bristol Flyers vs London City Royals
League newcomers London City Royals made their debut a successful one with a 73-78 victory away at Bristol Flyers as Matthew Bryan-Amaning finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
The league newcomers overturned a half-time deficit, coming out strong after the break and used a 15-2 run late in the third to move ahead. They established a double-digit cushion in the fourth before holding off a late fightback from Bristol.
“It wasn’t too stressful – it was fun, definitely,” Royals Head Coach Junior Williams said.
“I would have been disappointed if we’d have lost. Obviously we lost a couple of players. But I always felt that we had the players to win that game regardless of what happened.
“It’s our first game, we have to just take it one game at a time. We can’t over-analyse and start saying we can do this or that.
“Deep down we know we can be really competitive. If at Christmas we’re still competitive, that’ll give us a better idea of where we are and we can start making predictions and all the rest of it.
“We know what we want to do, but we have to keep it in perspective. It’s a long season, and we’re only one game in.”
Will Neighbour added a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double, and Ed Lucas added 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, as the Royals lost both Kyle Carey and Marqueese Grayson to injury in the first quarter.
Bristol were led by 20 points from Jalan McCloud 20, and 12 from Marcus Delpeche.
Surrey Scorchers vs Glasgow Rocks
Glasgow Rocks recorded their first win of the 2018-19 BBL Championship campaign, thanks to a game winner from Ali Fraser for a 92-94 win over Surrey Scorchers.
Having led by 22 points at the half, Rocks had to weather a Scorchers comeback and trailed heading into the final three minutes. Greg Pryor inspired a 13-5 run, scoring seven late points, but it took Fraser’s late winner to seal victory with five seconds remaining.
Frased led the Glasgow scoring with 19 points, whilst Gareth Muarry had 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Surrey were led by 21 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists from Quincy Taylor, 20 from Tayo Ogedengbe and Josh Steel with 15.
Plymouth Raiders vs London Lions
Plymouth Raiders ignited their season with a first win after beating London Lions at the Pavilions.
The Lions led by as many as nine points in the contest and had the advantage going into the fourth. However, an 11-3 run put the Raiders ahead before back-to-back 3-pointers from Joonas Jarvelainen capped an 8-0 run and the hosts held on.
“I’m just really pleased with the reaction from the players from the game on Friday where we didn’t play very well,” Plymouth Head Coach Paul James commented.
“I thought it was a fantastic game in front of a great fan base and I thought we played really well both defensively and offensively.”
Jarvelainen hit four triples in the fourth to finish with a game-high 28 points, while Josh Wilcher added 26 and Donte Nicholas played a key role at both ends and had 16 points, 11 assists and two blocks.
Reigning MVP Justin Robinson top scored for the Lions with 23 points, as Ladarius Tabb added 22 and Brandon Peel 17.
Cheshire Phoenix vs Worcester Wolves
Cheshire Phoenix recorded their first win of the season after coming from behind to defeat Worcester Wolves 91-83 at home.
Ben Thomas’ side recovered from a slow start just as they did for much of last season to leave both teams 1-1 after the weekend’s action.
Worcester were up eight points at the half, but the home side used a 26-15 third period to move ahead and never trailed again with 12 points in the fourth from Daniel Norl helping secure the win.
Dii’jon Allen-Jordan led the way with 22 points, while Norl impressed off the bench to finish with 21 points with three other players in double figures to help inspire the victory.
“The win came from just going out there and having fun, playing team defence,” Cheshire’s Dii’Jon Allen-Jordan commented.
“Once the crowd got into it, our momentum and our tempo raised and that really helped us stay on track.”
Adam Thoseby led Worcester with 23, and Filip Kramer had 19 and 12 rebounds.