There's the usual BBL Championship action on the menu this weekend, but it's the BBL Trophy which continues to capture the imagination.
The second quarter-final takes place tonight and it promises to be an absolute cracker at Surrey Sports Park as the hometown Heat welcome Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders, with the visitors looking to continue in their quest to add to the BBL Cup which they recently tucked safely away in the cabinet.
The title-chasing duo should serve up a treat, with the motivation for Creon Raftopoulos and the Heat very much concerned with getting back to the Final and trying to make-up for when they lost to Mersey Tigers at the O2 Arena a couple of seasons ago.
Riders' play-caller and recently crowned Molten BBL Coach of the Month Rob Paternostro can't wait, reiterating this kind of winner-takes-all contest as exactly what players, coaches and fans should relish. As well as the BBL Trophy clash, Riders also entertain Mersey Tigers tomorrow in the BBL Championship in a top versus bottom encounter.
Their main rivals for the title and defending BBL Champions Newcastle Eagles, will certainly have to be at their best on Sunday. They will line-up in the north-east derby game when they make the short trip down the A1 to Newton Aycliffe where they will face an in-form Durham Wildcats. It's a tricky game for the leaders since most Durham players all seem to have hit top gear at once and especially Ralph Bucci who has taken back-to-back Molten BBL Player of the Month Awards. With Wildcats securing three wins in their last four games, the Eagles can't afford any kind of complacency.
And, Dave Elderkin will be hoping his players can make it four wins in five games by the time they face the Eagles. That's because this evening, Durham will step out at One Health Sharks Sheffield with both clubs currently two of four teams sat with seven wins and engaged in a monumental battle for a play-off spot. Sharks have been boosted by their recent passage through to the BBL Trophy semi-finals and Wildcats' guard Keith Page has admitted trying to contain and shackle Mike Tuck will be the key for the visitors.
The other two teams sat on seven wins are Manchester Giants and London Lions, with both in action over the weekend. The former host Worcester Wolves tonight in a tough looking home game, whilst Lions can look forward to moving to eight victories for the season if they can avoid the banana skin of the visiting and still winless Mersey Tigers.
However, if Vince Macaulay wants to watch his team harvest two wins, it's going to be tough, since Lions make the long trek up to Glasgow on Sunday to face the Rocks, with the Scottish club also welcoming Cheshire Phoenix to the Emirates Arena tonight.
The Phoenix are sat on eight wins and therefore looking over their shoulders with the play-off chasing pack all bunched up right behind them. As well as heading north of the border, they will also lock horns with UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders at the Northgate Arena in the last BBL game of the weekend on Sunday night.
Best Player: Andre Spight (6'3''-G-95) of Armenia Best Guard: Andre Spight (6'3''-G-95) of Armenia Best Forward: Tevin Falzon (6'8''-F-92) of Malta Best Center: Bryant Dunston (203-C-86) of Armenia 1st Team G: Andre Spight (6'3''-G-95) of Armenia SG: Guillem Colom (191-SG-91) of Andorra ... [read more]
Eurobasket.com All-European Championship for Small Countries 1st Team 2016
The one-two punch of Andre Spight (190-G-95) and Bryant Dunston (203-C-86) led Armenia to their maiden basketball success. Andorra finished second, while San Marino grabbed the bronze. Armenia dominated the Final against Andorra from the start and won the game 79-71. An early 9-0 run was enough to secure a 25-12 lead after the first ten minutes, and the Armenians never looked back after that. Andorra could not cope with Dunston under the basket, losing the rebounding battle 45-32, and Sp... [read more]
The one-two punch of Andre Spight (190-G-95) and Bryant Dunston (203-C-86) led Armenia to their maiden basketball success. Andorra finished second, while San Marino grabbed the bronze.
Armenia dominated the Final against Andorra from the start and won the game 79-71. An early 9-0 run was enough to secure a 25-12 lead after the first ten minutes, and the Armenians never looked back after that. Andorra could not cope with Dunston under the basket, losing the rebounding battle 45-32, and Spight was lethal from outside.
Spight, who was voted FIBA European Championship for Small Countries MVP, connected on 4-of-6 attempts from beyond the arc to lead all scorers with 27 points. Dunston had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, and three more Armenians ended with eight points to their names.
Guillem Colom (191-SG-91) scored 22 points for Andorra, with Alberto Farfan (193-F-91) adding 15 more. Cinto Gabriel Morilla finished with 14 points, Oriol Fernandez (186-F-88) had 12, but the rest of Andorra combined for only eight points.
Andorra's run of two consecutive golds at the Championship has ended, while Armenia came up on top in their first official tournament. San Marino joined them on the podium after a 60-53 win over Ireland.
Ireland had led by four heading into the final ten minutes, and stayed in front until Gioele Moretti (191-F/G-93) hit a three-pointer to make it 52-50 with three and a half minutes left. Moretti's three was also the start of a 9-0 run which was enough to secure the win.
Federico Cardinali had a team-high 14 points for San Marino, but Moretti was their game hero, with an all-round performace - 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Jordan Blount (198-G-97) and Brian Fitzpatrick (203-F-89, college: Bucknell) combined for 32 points and 26 rebounds, but it was not enough for a medal in Moldova.
The home team booked fifth place with a 73-63 win over Malta. Wales ended in seventh place after a 67-40 triumph against Gibraltar.
Two-time defending champions Andorra will be looking for a three-peat on Sunday. Their Final opponent will be Armenia. Led by their dynamic duo of Andre Spight (190-G-95) and Bryant Dunston (203-C-86), Armenia defeated previously unbeaten Ireland 74-60. The game was tied at 53 with seven minutes left to play when Armenia stepped up their defense and kept Ireland scoreless for four minutes. Spight led the charge on the other side of the court in a 10-0 run. Armenia never looked back, booki... [read more]
Two-time defending champions Andorra will be looking for a three-peat on Sunday. Their Final opponent will be Armenia. Led by their dynamic duo of Andre Spight (190-G-95) and Bryant Dunston (203-C-86), Armenia defeated previously unbeaten Ireland 74-60. The game was tied at 53 with seven minutes left to play when Armenia stepped up their defense and kept Ireland scoreless for four minutes. Spight led the charge on the other side of the court in a 10-0 run. Armenia never looked back, booking a place in their first Final of the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries. Spight had a game-high 24 points, connecting on 8-of-14 attempts from inside the arc. Zareh Zargaryan (198-F-89, college: CS Dominguez H.) great performance, finishing game with 17 points and eight rebounds. However, Dunston was the game hero for Armenia, with the stat line of 13 points, 14 rebounds, 6 blocks and 3 steals. Ireland's 19-year-old Jordan Blount (198-G-97) had 18 points, but it wasn't enough for a place in the Final. Ireland will be fighting for bronze with San Marino, who suffered a heartbreaking 63-57 loss to Andorra. San Marino were trailing 60-57 heading into the final minute, but Andrea Raschi (201-F/G-79, agency: Octagon Europe) missed a couple of three-point shots to potentially tie the game. Albert Farfan De Los Godos and Guillem Colom (191-SG-91) kept their calm from the line to guide Andorra to victory. Farfan De Los Godos was the top performer for the defending champs with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor. Roger Lliteras (195-G-96) hit five three-pointers and finished with 17 points. San Marino had four players in double figures led by Matteo Botteghi (203-C/F-95) and his 13-point, 15-rebound double-double, but will have to settle for the bronze medal match on Sunday. The finalists have already played each other in this tournament. Andorra won the Group B match-up 70-63 back on Wednesday. Classification games for fifth to eight place saw Malta defeat Wales 63-51, while Moldova defeated Gibraltar 85-43. Wales and Gibraltar will play for seventh, Malta and Moldova get to fight for fifth place on Sunday.
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