BBL Week 1 headlines: Phoenix stun Riders, Eagles win Sky opener -

BBL Week 1 headlines: Phoenix stun Riders, Eagles win Sky opener

Aaryn Rai Cheshire Phoenix vs Leicester

The 2023-24 season in the British Basketball League got underway this weekend with all 10 teams in action to begin their regular season campaigns.

Eagles overcome Sharks in Sky opener

A new-look Newcastle Eagles side defeated Sheffield Sharks 79-72 on the opening night of the new season, live on Sky Sports. Marc Steutel had recruited from around the league and it was ex-Manchester forward Tajh Green that put on a typical show with 17 points and 11 rebounds with former Cheshire guard Larry Austin posting a double-double of his own with 13 points and 10 boards.

The hosts were 31-of-39 from the foul line in the win as they recovered from trailing by seven in the first half. Sheffield had 16 points from Jalon Pipkins and handed a BBL debut to British rookie RJ Eytle-Rock.

Phoenix fire past Riders on the road

There was an early signal of intent from Cheshire Phoenix (1-0) as they pulled off a stunning 24-point victory, 86-110, away at Leicester Riders (0-1). Aaryn Rai impressed in his BBL debut with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists having been the Player of the Year in NBL D1 last season.

Meanwhile, Maceo Jack and Skyler White both added 22 points apiece with a combined 12 three-pointers with rookie guard Cam Holden contributing a near triple-double of 14 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists off the bench.

Defending champs London up and running

Last season’s treble-winners London Lions pulled clear in the second half on their way to a 22-point road success, 61-83, at Surrey Scorchers. New head coach Petar Bozic saw his side outscore the hosts 45-28 in the second half with a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double from Gabe Olaseni leading the way in the win.

Two-time league MVP Justin Robinson returned to BBL action with 10 points as one of two Scorchers players in double figures against his former side. Surrey were held to 28% shooting after a promising start.

Elsewhere, Bristol Flyers eased to an 82-65 South-West derby win over Plymouth Raiders with 23 points and 10 rebounds from Brad Greene, while Caledonia Gladiators earned a 79-97 victory over Manchester Giants on the road behind Pat Whelan’s 23 points ahead of the start of their European campaign.

Full results: Eagles 79-72 Sharks, Flyers 82-65 Raiders, Riders 86-110 Phoenix, Scorchers 61-83 Lions, Giants 79-97 Gladiators

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