The England Basketball League season opened with four National Trophy games over the weekend, and last years beaten finalists Tees Valley Mohawks started their campaign with an 85-63 victory. Both squads have a lot of new faces but it was a familiar face of Jorge Ebanks (185-G-86) who started where he left off hitting an impressive 25 points, six rebound and five assists. After the visitors had scored the first five points of the game, Jerome Narcisse sparked the hosts into life as they went on a 15-3 run to open a lead they would never lose. Mohawks led 26-13 at the first break, but Taner Adu stepped up for the Crusaders in the second period to cut the advantage to 43-33 going into the locker room. Tees Valley coach Steve Butler was delighted with the win: "I'm really pleased with the effort we put in today, we still have a lot of improving to do but we played as a team today and all the guys contributed. I believe we are more balanced this season and maybe with one or even two more coming in to the team we have players challenging for spots on the roster so the squad is looking good. Jorge showed exactly why I wanted him back this season and Acho dominated the boards. Our defence was a bit sluggish at times but we will improve as the guys get to know each other more." Ebanks was also a happy man: It was a great start to the new season, we got some new guys this season and it was great to see them get their first experience at Division One level. We also showed that we have an inside presence this season which was our weakness last season but what I've seen I'm excited about this team and this season." Adu whos last game had been for Essex Leopards in the Trophy final where he suffered a season-ending injury finished with 25 points for Crusaders, while McLaughlin added 15 for the Mohawks. Reading Rockets and Worthing Thunder met at Rivermead in a repeat of last seasons play-off final, and the result was the same as a strong fourth period saw Rockets stroll to an 84-56 victory. Reading's new captain Danny Carter (205-F-89, college: Stony Brook) was the pick of the home side's players as he scored 18 points with 12 rebounds, while Tom Ward (193-G-88, college: St.Michael's) led the south coast side with 14 points and seven boards Thunder started the match well as they began to exert a level of control over the Rockets, and they managed to edge ahead to lead by four going into the second quarter. In a topsy-turvy quarter that set the tone for the rest of the match, Reading managed to up their game and they came from behind to lead 37-30 at the break. With the match tentatively poised, the third period was always going to be the crucial one and crucially the home side kept their lead in tact, although good work from Thunder had reduced the deficit to just four. However, the final quarter of the match was one to forget for Hildreth's men as the Rockets ran rampant, holding them scoreless for the first seven minutes on their way to a 29-5 period. Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth couldnt hide his disappointment : There were good points and bad points but we weren't able to play at our best level. I'm pleased that we were able to compete for 35 minutes against a well-drilled side and I think if we had played our best basketball we would have won the match. We didn't play to our ability level and it wasn't a good shooting day for us. I'm confident with a few more games and our full squad available we won't be a million miles off the pace. Saturdays other game saw Westminster Warriors pick up a surprise 75-69 road win at Team Northumbria. Led by 18 points apiece from Yannick Bullamwe and Leon Bennet-Harris, the London side outscored the hosts 46-37 in the second half to take the win. The teams shared 43 first period points before the home side opened a 32-28 lead going into the locker room. But Warriors won the third quarter 26-20 and then closed out the win with a 20-17 final stanza. Thompson led the home side with 15 points. The weekends games were completed at Hemel on Sunday evening as the home-town Storm ran out 69-66 winners against last seasons Division One runners-up Bristol Academy Flyers. The home side did it the hard way, though, with Flyers racing into a 26-10 first period lead. Jon Burnells team trimmed the deficit to 40-32 going into the locker room at half-time and then went into the final break 54-53 ahead after a 22-13 third quarter. A 15-13 fourth period sealed the win for Hemel, who knocked Bristol out of the competitive at the quarter-final stage last season. Bola Adeluola (23) and Williamze Omope (17) led the Storm, while Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (188-G-96) top scored for Bristol with 22 and Gregory Streete (194-G-88) added 13.
One question has been answered in the race for the BBL Championship Play-off places, as Surrey Scorchers secured their berth with a comprehensive 93-70 defeat of fellow contenders Plymouth Raiders. Scorchers have won eight of their last eleven, led this time by Gabriel McCray's 18 points and a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds from Chaz Rollins. Elsewhere, Bristol Flyers now also have their destiny in their own hands as an 89-81 overtime victory over Manchester Giants means tha... [read more]
One question has been answered in the race for the BBL Championship Play-off places, as Surrey Scorchers secured their berth with a comprehensive 93-70 defeat of fellow contenders Plymouth Raiders.
Scorchers have won eight of their last eleven, led this time by Gabriel McCray's 18 points and a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds from Chaz Rollins.
Elsewhere, Bristol Flyers now also have their destiny in their own hands as an 89-81 overtime victory over Manchester Giants means that they, too, can qualify if they beat Scorchers on the final day of the season, or if Raiders lose to Giants. BBL Championship
Surrey Scorchers have qualified for the BBL Championship Play-offs after a decisive road win over fellow contenders Plymouth Raiders, 93-70, led by 18 points off the bench for Gabriel McCray and another double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds for Chaz Rollins.
Scorchers have now won eight of their last eleven games and, with this late charge, are one of the teams carrying momentum into the post-season. The defeat, meanwhile, sees Raiders having lost five in a row, slipping out of the Play-off places and hoping results go their way on the final day.
But Surrey had to come from behind in this game, when Raiders led 11-2 after a lightning start in front of a large home crowd, Daryl Corletto scoring five including a three-pointer.
Quincy Taylor's triple sparked the Scorchers, and they turned it around to get in front at 14-12 when Kalil Irving scored seven in a row and his triple capped a 12-1 response, as Plymouth didn't score for nearly five minutes.
And Scorchers took control when they started the second stanza with another 17-2 surge, McCray emerging from the bench to hit consecutive triples in the space of thirty seconds, as the lead reached double-figures at 35-21.
Raiders missed eight of their first ten shots in the period, but an 11-4 finish to the half, sparked by a third Corletto triple, did get them back to 43-34.
But that was as good as it would get. Taylor hit another important trey, and Rollins followed with consecutive scores, to push the lead back out to 59-42 on a run of seven unanswered; before the visitors dominated the fourth quarter.
McCray added six more in an 11-0 burst late on, Tayo Ogendengbe's triple seeing the lead peak at 92-68.
BBL Championship Bristol Flyers 89 (21,33,57,74) (Smith 19, Vigor 18, Cosby 15) Manchester Giants 81 (9,29,53,74) (Trobo 20, Okoro 18, Jones 14) After overtime
Bristol Flyers prevailed through overtime to maintain their BBL Championship Play-off chase, beating Manchester Giants 89-81 in the second game this season that has required an extra period to separate these teams.
It's a fourth win in the last five games for Flyers, who were led by a pair of huge double-doubles from Leslee Smith (203-F-90, college: Nebraska), with 19 points and 21 rebounds, and Michael Vigor, who had 18 points and 14 boards.
And the game had looked comfortable for the hosts when they raced into a 14-2 lead as Vigor scored five early points, including a three-pointer that was added to in-kind by Aaron Cosby as they led 21-9 after ten minutes, captain Greg Streete scoring his 1,000th career BBL point.
But Flyers were shooting only 28%, and that would cost them. Jerelle Okoro's 'and-one' play ignited the Giants, and they had a strong finish to the first half when Callum Jones scored consecutively as the visitors hit the last six points, getting back to 33-29.
Bristol re-established their double-digit lead as Cosby scored eight points, but Giants were much the stronger in the second half. They finished the third period with another 11-2 run, Jones adding six more, and eventually took the lead heading into the final minute of the game as Okoro scored the last four in a 9-2 spell to make the score 71-69.
After Harold Trobo hit a three-pointer, it was up to Smith to tie the game and force overtime with 15 seconds remaining.
And that swung the pendulum, as Flyers managed to carry that momentum through to the end. A Cosby three-pointer gave them the lead for good, as Smith added six more points in overtime in a 10-2 run to settle it.
Flyers will qualify for the Play-offs with a win on the final day against Surrey Scorchers, or if Manchester Giants can reverse their fortunes and beat Plymouth Raiders.
The final weekend of the regular season started with wins for three of the top four sides in the BBL Championship. League champions, Leicester Riders were beaten 83-76 away at Esh Group Eagles Newcastle with Rahmon Fletcher leading the way with 24 points. Meanwhile, Glasgow Rocks needed a game-winner from Kieron Achara to get past Leeds Force 70-72 on the road with DBL Sharks Sheffield inflicting a first loss in 13 on Worcester Wolves with a convincing 70-83 success. Also, London Lions... [read more]
The final weekend of the regular season started with wins for three of the top four sides in the BBL Championship.
League champions, Leicester Riders were beaten 83-76 away at Esh Group Eagles Newcastle with Rahmon Fletcher leading the way with 24 points.
Meanwhile, Glasgow Rocks needed a game-winner from Kieron Achara to get past Leeds Force 70-72 on the road with DBL Sharks Sheffield inflicting a first loss in 13 on Worcester Wolves with a convincing 70-83 success.
Also, London Lions defeated Cheshire Phoenix 101-89 behind a 25-point haul from Rashad Hassan (203-C/F-89, college: Savannah St.).
DBL Sharks Sheffield boosted their hopes of a top-four finish after ending the 12-game win streak of Worcester Wolves with a 70-83 road triumph.
Atiba Lyons' side gradually pulled away for an important win in front of the BBC Sport cameras with both teams having identical records heading into the contest.
Tony Wroblicky impressed with a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds, while Mike Tuck and Rashawn Rembert both added 13 points apiece in the win.
There was still nothing to separate the two sides after the opening 10 minutes with the game level at 22 before the Sharks began to make their move.
Worcester had led 28-24 early in the second until a 9-0 run gave the visitors control and they opened up an eight-point advantage at the half. Sheffield moved as many as 13 points infront in the third quarter and still had a double-digit lead by the end of the period.
A strong start to the fourth pushed Sharks out to a 62-79 lead and they wrapped up an impressive victory ahead of Sunday's showdown with Newcastle.
As for Worcester, they head to league champions, Leicester Riders, having seen their win streak come to an end with Ashton Khan netting a team-high 14 points.
London Lions raced out of the blocks en route to a 101-89 victory over Cheshire Phoenix to continue their momentum ahead of the Play-Offs.
Rashad Hassan, Navid Niktash and Alex Owumi combined for 68 points with Hassan leading the way with 25 to remain the league's top scorer.
Niktash netted eight early points in a dominant 18-4 start as the Lions went on to pour in 35 points in the first quarter to lead by 18. The lead peaked at 23 points in the second as a Joe Ikhinmwin triple made it 56-33.
The home side had 60 points on the board at the half for a commanding lead. Cheshire kept fighting in the second half as a 10-2 run helped cut the gap before a 9-0 run reduced the deficit to single figures at 87-78 in the fourth.
However, the damage had been done and the Lions held on for a 12-point win to avoid a series sweep against the Nix with both sides playing their final league game on Sunday.
Jawad Adekoya had 20 points off the bench for Cheshire and they will look to bow out of the season on a high against Leeds Force.
BBL Championship Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 83 (29,45,68) (Fletcher 24, Martin 18, Flournoy 10) Leicester Riders 76 (21,44,61) (Clark 18, Thomson 13, King 12)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle secured second spot as they defeated the league champions, Leicester Riders, 83-76, at Sport Central.
Rahmon Fletcher led the Eagles to victory with 24 points and eight assists as they avenged their loss to the Riders from Wednesday.
The Eagles were without Deondre Parks, while the visitors had captain Tyler Bernardini on the sidelines and it was the hosts who made the stronger start with a 29-21 opening quarter.
However, Leicester responded well from 11 points down with a 16-2 run to take a 38-41 lead, but Fletcher pushed the Eagles ahead by beating the half-time buzzer.
Newcastle pulled away in the third to lead by seven with 10 minutes to go and despite Riders cutting the gap to three, they held on to secure the win.
Brandon Clark top scored with 18 points for the Riders, who finish their regular season campaign at home to Worcester Wolves on Sunday with Newcastle away at Sheffield.
The 2016-17 BBL campaign comes to an end for four teams this weekend. Three already know that, while three teams are battling to extend their seasons. Six teams have booked their spots in the Play-Offs with two still up for grabs heading into the final round of regular season fixtures. Bristol Flyers, Plymouth Raiders and Surrey Scorchers. Two will make it, one finishes with disappointment. The winner of Plymouth-Surrey on Saturday will advance and if Bristol can beat Manchester on the... [read more]
The 2016-17 BBL campaign comes to an end for four teams this weekend. Three already know that, while three teams are battling to extend their seasons.
Six teams have booked their spots in the Play-Offs with two still up for grabs heading into the final round of regular season fixtures.
Bristol Flyers, Plymouth Raiders and Surrey Scorchers. Two will make it, one finishes with disappointment.
The winner of Plymouth-Surrey on Saturday will advance and if Bristol can beat Manchester on the same day, then they will advance with a win over Surrey on the final day with Plymouth taking on Manchester on the road.
"We feel these are two must win games for us and we plan to approach this weekend like it's the playoffs," said Flyers' Aaron Cosby (190-G-92, college: W.Kentucky). "We have to do whatever it takes to win.
"It won't be easy as we expect both Manchester and Surrey to give us their best shot but I'm confident if we play together we will come out on the winning side of both games."
The league's top two meet again tonight as Esh Group Eagles Newcastle host Leicester Riders having lost on Wednesday, while this season's double-winners return home to host Worcester Wolves on Sunday.
Paul James' Wolves take a 12-game win streak into the final weekend and they take on DBL Sharks Sheffield live on BBC Sport tonight in the battle for third with the Sharks then hosting Newcastle on Sunday.
Glasgow Rocks visit Leeds Force tonight before welcoming London Lions to the Emirates Arena as they can secure a third place finish with two wins on the weekend.
Also, the Lions take on Cheshire Phoenix this evening before the visitors return home to host Leeds on Sunday as they look to sign off the season in style.
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