- National Teams
The league regular season is up and running, the BBL is back on Sky Sports and COVID is not disrupting the schedule for the time being.
It was a busy weekend of action around the league as all 11 sides opened their BBL Championship campaigns and only three came away unscathed.
Latest results: BBL Championship – Sharks 82-92 Phoenix, Eagles 88-79 Lions, Wolves 60-69 Raiders, Flyers 59-66 Giants, Scorchers 72-84 Riders, Raiders 77-76 Eagles, Sharks 105-61 Scorchers, Phoenix 81-84 Flyers (OT), Giants 86-66 Rocks; BBL Cup – (Group 3) Riders 61-87 Sharks
[denotes position from previous week]
The wins keep on rolling for the Raiders. The performances haven’t been top level yet, but they’re still without Andrew Lawrence and keep finding a way through close games, which is huge. And, they passed their first major test after overcoming a strong Newcastle Eagles side by the narrowest of margins.
Ashley Hamilton top scored with 22 points to lead his side to a nine-point victory on the road against Worcester before the GB international posted 18 points and 13 boards at home to Newcastle. Chris Porter-Burton had a strong weekend for the Raiders and they had important contributions throughout the roster to continue their momentum and make a winning start to the league campaign.
Next game: v London Lions (A) – CH – 11th December
The Riders followed up Ali Fraser’s addition with the signing of Malta international Aaron Falzon – brother of ex-Bristol forward Tevin Falzon. And, Rob Paternostro’s side came away from Surrey with a 12-point win on the road in their league opener.
Jamell Anderson and Conner Washington combined for 30 points off the bench, while Geno Crandall continued to make highlight plays as the Riders managed to keep the Scorchers at bay for victory.
On Monday night, they completed their Cup group campaign with a 26-point defeat at home to Sheffield as they gave their young players from the programme an opportunity to earn BBL experience.
Next game: v Sheffield Sharks (H) – CH – 11th December
A mixed week for the Eagles as they split a tough opening to the regular season. It was the Rahmon Fletcher takeover on Sky Sports as the two-time league MVP led his side past London on Thursday before they came up agonisingly short on the road against Plymouth.
Fletcher scored 17 points in the fourth to finish with 21 points and 10 assists with Justin Gordon netting 26 points as they saw off the Lions by nine as they came out on top in the fourth quarter shootout that contained 60 points. However, on Sunday, it didn’t go their way despite 15 points and 19 boards for Evan Maxwell as they dropped to 1-1.
Next game: v Manchester Giants (A) – CH – 13th December
Not the start the Lions would have hoped for as they were unable to replicate their recent Cup win at the Eagles Community Arena. Justin Robinson had 17 points and eight assists with the visitors finding success inside through Chris Tawiah and Orlando Parker.
But, they were unable to contain Fletcher in the fourth quarter as the Eagles put up 33 points to take the victory. Even this early, the Lions won’t want to drop another game and face Plymouth on Friday in what was probably the most anticipated clash on paper when the rosters were being assembled in the off-season.
Next game: v Plymouth Raiders (H) – CH – 11th December
Five wins from six in all competitions. 2-0 start to top the league. Things are looking very encouraging from the Giants at the moment, but we’re still heeding caution in our rankings, for now, ahead of their intriguing double-header this weekend that includes hosting Newcastle on Sunday.
Manchester didn’t hit a single three in their comeback win at Bristol before enjoying another convincing home win over Glasgow. Lyle Hexom put up 26 points, Jordan Whelan added 22 and Breaon Brady posted 20 points along with 16 rebounds as the Giants jumped to the top of the table after the opening weekend.
Of course, they didn’t win a single game last season, but this is a much stronger roster and victory this weekend would really be a statement.
— Hoopsfix 🇬🇧🏀 (@Hoopsfix) December 6, 2020
Next game: v Worcester Wolves (A) – CH – 11th December
Bristol sure know how to create some drama. After their last-ditch escape from the Cup group phase last week, they were involved in two thrillers to open league play as they lost a game they probably should have won and won a game they probably should have lost.
The Flyers had a 12-point lead over Manchester at home on Friday night, but were outscored 9-22 in the final quarter to fall to defeat. However, they responded by overturning a double-digit deficit to outlast Cheshire in overtime on the road. Teddy Okereafor forced the extra period with a clutch three, while Eric Lockett just missed out on a triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
IT'S TEDDY TIME! 🧸 pic.twitter.com/cDmUZqPz4j
— Bristol Flyers (@BristolFlyers) December 6, 2020
Next game: v Glasgow Rocks (H) – CH – 12th December
Another single-figure margin of defeat for the Wolves, but defeat nevertheless. They hold their ground in our rankings, for now, but are in need of a victory to halt their slide – even if they are still without their American contingent.
It was another tough battle with Plymouth that went down to the wire. They had the lead at half-time through another early scoring blitz from Josh McSwiggan, who finished with 19 points, but the Wolves were held to just 21 points in the second half and conceded a 9-0 run that spanned five minutes late in the fourth.
Next game: v Manchester Giants (H) – CH – 11th December
There was certainly no Lull in proceedings from new big man, Jimbo. The American showed out on the global stage on SkySports with a 27-point haul in displaying a versatile skillset in helping Cheshire pick up their first win of the season.
The McCall-Ross back-court combination looks like it will cause teams problems this season and they did enough to get past Sheffield, though the Phoenix missed out on a 2-0 start as they squandered a healthy advantage to fall in overtime against the Flyers with the duo held to 6-of-25 shooting.
Next game: v Surrey Scorchers (A) – CH – 12th December
The Sharks saw their losing streak slump to five straight, live on Sky Sports last Thursday, before bouncing back in style on their home floor with a morale boosting 44-point victory against Surrey.
They were beaten by 10 by Cheshire despite recovering from a slow start and saw an instant impact from new signing Jeremy Hemsley, particularly on the scoring front. Antwon Lillard continues to look an all-round threat for the Sharks and he put up 22 points in Sunday’s win with Jodhe Campbell stepping up for an efficient 21 points off the bench.
A historic night in Sharks history as @AtibaLyons becomes the youngest coach in @BBLofficial history to coach 500 games, and celebrates by securing his 3rd biggest margin of victory, and the club's 9th largest since the joining the BBL in 1994. Read more:https://t.co/6eqU1TuKyO pic.twitter.com/By6zv4rUqB
— The B. Braun Sheffield Sharks (@SheffieldSharks) December 6, 2020
On Monday night, they completed their Cup campaign with an emphatic win over a much-changed Leicester side on the road.
Next game: v Leicester Riders (A) – CH – 11th December
Glasgow are still yet to play anyone outside of Manchester and Cheshire, so still quite difficult to judge where they are at. It was a second heavy defeat on the road against the Giants on Sunday as they went down by 20 in their league opener.
Four players combined for 60 points and the young core are carrying a lot of responsibility with Gareth Murray opting to focus on his coaching role and seeing limited time on the court. The experiences will only help them grow and they have their favourite double-header of the season this weekend to look forward to in making the long trip to the South-West to face Bristol and Plymouth in the league.
Next game: v Bristol Flyers (A) – CH – 12th December
The curse of the road form strikes again for the Scorchers. After a battling display at home to the Riders, they made the trip to Sheffield less than 24 hours later and fell to a crushing 44-point loss with Evan Walshe the only player in double figures with 15 off the bench on Sunday.
Surrey handed a third debut to Ryan Richards in their league opener and fought hard to battle back from an 18-point deficit, but could not make up the ground. Their shooting is still misfiring and Coach Creon Raftopoulos would not have been pleased with the defensive effort agains the Sharks having hinted at changes with a chance to regroup next week.
— Surrey Scorchers (@surreyscorchers) December 6, 2020
Next game: v Cheshire Phoenix (H) – CH – 12th December
* Bristol Flyers 0-20 Surrey Scorchers – BBL Cup (COVID-19 regulations)
* Surrey Scorchers 20-0 Bristol Flyers – BBL Cup (COVID-19 regulations)
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