There was a trio of home wins on Friday night in the BBL Championship, for the Newcastle Eagles, One Health Sharks Sheffield and Manchester Giants.
The Eagles have given themselves a cushion in second place in the BBL Championship table after beating the third-placed Surrey Heat 89-80 in the northeast. The Eagles have won five of their last six games, while it was the Heat's first loss on the road since October. Damon Huffman (186-PG-85) led the Eagles with 26 points, including six three-pointers, while Darius Defoe had a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds; the Eagles were missing Charles Smith.
After establishing an 11-2 lead straight out of the blocks, the Eagles led throughout the game although they were pushed late on. The Heat tied the game at 54 when Frank and Travis Holmes scored consecutive baskets, but the Eagles were settled by Damon Huffman and Fab Flournoy, and Huffman made two three-pointers inside the last two minutes to maintain their edge at 64-60 going into the fourth quarter.
The Eagles built on that foundation and saw the game out as a 6-0 burst, sparked by Anthony Martin, gave them a double-digit cushion at 72-62 and that was maintained heading into the last five minutes as Martin scored twice more. The Heat did threaten again, using an 8-0 run to get within one possession at 76-73 with four minutes to play, and they still had a chance with 1.13 remaining at 82-79 after Margai scored again. But the Eagles held their nerve as, surprisingly, Defoe made his first three-pointer of the season and Martin scored 4/4 from the line down the stretch.
Elsewhere, the Sharks made it three wins in a row, while condemning the Glasgow Rocks to their third straight defeat as they beat their Scottish rivals 83-74 in Yorkshire. Micah Williams led the Sharks with 23 points, while Mike Tuck added 16. The visitors were led by Gareth Murray's 16 points and 9 rebounds.
The Sharks used a flurry of third quarter three-pointers to win the game, after trailing for most of the first half. With 3.30 to play in the third, trailing 45-54, Micah Williams scored back-to-back three-pointers for the hosts to narrow the gap to 51-54, and when Lewis added another a minute later the game was level, and it stayed that way heading into the fourth quarter at 58-58.
The Sharks established a decisive lead when they scored the first 8 points of the fourth quarter, including 6 for Babalola, and they maintained a cushion through to the end.
Finally, the Manchester Giants made it two wins in a row, after a previous run of seven straight defeats, after edging out northwest rivals the Cheshire Phoenix by 85-83, meaning that the Phoenix have lost six of their seven road games this season.
The Giants were led by a double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds from Ben Eaves, ably supported by 19 points from David Watts. Gabriele Haskins led all scorers, in vain for the visitors, scoring 31 points.
The Giants led for all of the first three quarters and 30-21 after a free-scoring first period, establishing an 18-8 lead after just five minutes courtesy of a 10-2 surge as Watts and Eaves each scored 6 early points. But thereafter the Phoenix chipped away at their hosts' lead.
Their persistence paid off in the fourth quarter as an 8-3 opening gave them their first lead of the game at 68-69 after Haskins made 4/4 from the line following a foul and Mike Bernard technical foul, and then the same player scored again as the Phoenix got the ball back, meaning Haskins scored 6 points in 20 seconds. But their lead would not last long, as, fittingly, Ben Eaves' three-pointer put the hosts back up 73-71, with 6.30 to play. The teams were never separated by more than one possession all the way to the end, and they were tied at 83 inside the final minute. It was down to Eaves to settle the game after Stefan Gill stole the ball and set him up for a dunk with 20 seconds left; there was time for the Phoenix to tie the game, but Gumbs missed his shot before Eaves emerged with the rebound as the clock ran down.
Manchester drop curtain on Senior Playoff Finals with D1M win - 1 day ago
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Manchester retained their D1M Playoff title after a comfortable 73-53 win over Loughborough. A poor 2nd quarter where the Riders fell behind and shot just 2/15 from the floor proved too much to overcome against a well drilled and talented Magic side. Unable to call upon the injured Josh Ward-Hibbert, Loughborough struggled to find answers on offence for the duration. With the game meandering through the 2nd half, an altercation between Lee Goldsborough and Jonas Dieterich during a loose b... [read more]
Manchester retained their D1M Playoff title after a comfortable 73-53 win over Loughborough. A poor 2nd quarter where the Riders fell behind and shot just 2/15 from the floor proved too much to overcome against a well drilled and talented Magic side. Unable to call upon the injured Josh Ward-Hibbert, Loughborough struggled to find answers on offence for the duration. With the game meandering through the 2nd half, an altercation between Lee Goldsborough and Jonas Dieterich during a loose ball play led to unsportsmanlike fouls for both players and a disqualification for Magic's Stefan Gill (173-PG-83) after he was involved in the aftermath. That was as exciting as things got in a 2nd half that never really threatened a comeback from Loughborough. Duane Morgan (198-F-93, college: Adelphi) treated the vocal Manchester crowd to some spectacular plays, including a number of dunks and an alley-oop for good measure. He was awarded the game's MVP trophy after his stat line of 20 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists. Morgan started his MVP afternoon off well and picked up a team high 5 points in the opening 10 minutes. More importantly captain Jack Minister, guard Kayin Darbey (183-PG-94) and Lee Goldsborough all settled into the game with early points as Manchester moved out to a 22-16 1st quarter lead. Loughborough's athletic guard Reiss Pinnock offered some resistance but it wasn't the start the Riders were looking for as the initiative was with their opponents heading into the 2nd. With the largely Manchester based crowd fully into the game and behind the team in the lead, Loughborough crumbled in the 2nd. With only Pinnock and Levi Noel (197-G-91, college: E.Illinois) troubling the scorers, it was a crippling 10 minutes for Loughborough's chances of success as practically everything they attempted failed to connect. With a young roster, confidence was quickly dented and the D1M 5th seeds never really recovered. A 21 point Manchester lead at the half meant the game was firmly in the hands of the reigning playoff champions. The main talking point of the 2nd half occurred midway through the 3rd period and led to Stefan Gill leaving the court much earlier than expected. With Duane Morgan grabbing an offensive rebound, he went to put the ball back before being forced into a miss by a Lucien Christofis foul. Grabbing the rebound as the whistle sounded, both Goldsbrough and Dieterich went about the act with a bit too much effort for the others' liking. That led to a shove from the Manchester man and a chest bump from the Riders' captain. Taking exception to Dieterich's actions, Gill became involved in the melee with a shove that earned him a DQ. Aside from that flash point, the 3rd period played out with little of note. Loughborough sought a way back into the game that was frequently denied by the continued scoring of Manchester and their own errors on offence. Even when the Riders were presented with opportunities from the free throw line, they faltered there to and recorded a 39% success rate from the charity stripe in the game. The final quarter provided Manchester Coach Paul Middleton with a real luxury as he was able to provide his bench with some useful minutes in a showpiece game. Cian Hickey, Tyme Regent-Bascombe and Yannick Onifade (201-C/F) all saw their first action of the contest during the final 10 minutes and Kaiyem Cleary (196-G-99) was provided with an extended opportunity to showcase his talented. To their credit, Loughborough continued to fight but the difference in score didn't deviate far from the 20-point mark before the final buzzer sounded. Courtesy of: basketballengland.co.uk
Kent add playoff glory to league winning season - 15 hours ago
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In a tightly contested game that was fit for a final, Kent managed to outlast rivals Thames Valley 90-87. Consistently playing catch up in the final quarter after a poor 3rd period, the Cavs rallied from a double digit deficit before coming up just short on the final buzzer. Trailing by 3 with less than 10 seconds on the clock, Thames Valley had one last roll of the dice to try and force the game into OT. Inbounding the ball to star man Martelle McLemore (197-G/F-88, college: W.Michigan),... [read more]
In a tightly contested game that was fit for a final, Kent managed to outlast rivals Thames Valley 90-87. Consistently playing catch up in the final quarter after a poor 3rd period, the Cavs rallied from a double digit deficit before coming up just short on the final buzzer. Trailing by 3 with less than 10 seconds on the clock, Thames Valley had one last roll of the dice to try and force the game into OT. Inbounding the ball to star man Martelle McLemore (197-G/F-88, college: W.Michigan), the imposing forward raced down the court before pulling up at the top of the arc to let fly. With pressure all around him, his shot could only find the back iron before bouncing away. With heartbreak for the London club, Kent will be delighted to have added playoff success to a D2M regular season title. John Shodipo (196-G, college: DuPage JC) collected the MVP award after a 7/9 shooting performance, netted 18 points to add to 11 rebounds, 5 dimes and 2 steals. Captain RJ Eytle-Rock's contribution shouldn't be overlooked as the young talent added 21 points and 8 boards of his own. Whilst the beginning of the 2nd half didn't favour Thames Valley, the beginning of the 1st certainly did as points from Philip Perre (198-F-79, college: N.Alabama) and Robert Banks Jr (193-G-00) Jr allowed the Cavs to move out to a 19-13 lead. Eytle-Rock closed the quarter with a 3 to narrow the gap but it was still a 24-21 Thames Valley game after 1. A 14-7 run to open the 2nd quarter swing the game back in Kent's favour but it wasn't to last. With Banks Jr continuing to enjoy a strong 1st half in which he collected 17 points, the youngster turned it on in the 2nd quarter to push his team back out in front. Kent once again closed the quarter with a 3 but it was their opponents who would lead at the half, up 49-44 after a closing 18-9 burst of their own. The 3rd would prove the undoing of all Thames Valley's hard work. Eventual MVP Shodipo led the charge before Eytle-Rock and Amin Adamu (193-SG-97) joined the party and began to turn the screw. For the 3rd period in a row the Crusaders ended the quarter with a shot from beyond the arc, Shodipo on this occasion, capping an emphatic 10 minutes of play. Their 5-point deficit had been swung around into a 69-62 lead after a 25-13 frame. A frantic and exciting final 10 minutes provided Thames Valley with plenty of opportunities to get back into the game but with 3:30 remaining they still trailed by 9. In fitting with the weekend to that stage, late drama was on the horizon as 80-71 quickly became 82-80 after a trio of free throws from Banks. Both teams traded baskets to get the score to 88-85 before McLemore's fateful final effort. Such a narrow loss on the greatest stage of the year will be a bitter pill to swallow for Thames Valley after finishing a narrow 3rd in the regular season to miss out on promotion to D1M. For Kent though, it's a league and playoff double and the anticipation of top flight basketball next term. Courtesy of: basketballengland.co.uk
Middlesex LTBC take D3 Playoff win after epic battle - 15 hours ago
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In a Final that should be remembered as an instant classic, both Team Birmingham Elite and Middlesex LTBC left everything out on the court in an attempt to secure the D3M Playoff Championship. Middlesex eventually came out on top, 63-62, but the result was in the balance right up until the final buzzer. In a fixture that had everything, the crowd were treated to a real spectacle to end Playoff Saturday at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester. With the score line separa... [read more]
In a Final that should be remembered as an instant classic, both Team Birmingham Elite and Middlesex LTBC left everything out on the court in an attempt to secure the D3M Playoff Championship. Middlesex eventually came out on top, 63-62, but the result was in the balance right up until the final buzzer. In a fixture that had everything, the crowd were treated to a real spectacle to end Playoff Saturday at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester. With the score line separated by just a single digit, Birmingham brought the ball up the floor with just 15 seconds remaining in an effort to tip the game in their favour. Alex Anderson's 3-point attempt couldn't find the mark on a day when his side shot 28% from the floor. With Middlesex grabbing the rebound, it was a heart breaking way to end the game for the Birmingham side. MVP honours went LTBC big man Marius Talijunas (204-C-89) who's tireless work on the boards helped to decide an otherwise even game. Pulling down 19 rebounds, adding 9 points and an impressive 7 blocks, the 6'6' rim protector did the dirty work that so often goes unnoticed, but not today. Establishing an early lead was always going to be important to Middlesex as they came into the game with just 8 players to call upon. Modestas Krasauskas (194-SG-91) seemed to be the LTBC that took that most literally as he exploded out of the blocks to score 15 points in the opening quarter. That allowed Middlesex to take the 1st 24-16 as Birmingham tried to keep up. With Krasauskas taking a back seat in the 2nd quarter, it was the turn of Tadas Bagdonas (C/F) to step to the fore. With Birmingham continuing to toil, shooting just 4/22 from the floor in the quarter, Bagdonas had no such issues. 14 personal points helped Middlesex establish a healthy half time lead at 40-28. Birmingham weren't going to give up though. Seeing that the 8 man Middlesex roster was a 6-man rotation with Petravicius and Vytuvis being used sparingly, LTBC were always going to tire. The game then became a question of how long the D3 South winners could last and if they'd have enough in the tank to see off a youthful Birmingham team in the 2nd half. The answer to that question appeared to have been found in the 3rd quarter when Birmingham came roaring back from 14 down to trail by just 5 with 10 minutes to go. Sharing the load on offence, the West Midlands side had just 1 player on 10 points after 30 minutes, but 8 different players had troubled the scorers. 48-36 Middlesex late in the 3rd became 49-49 with 8 minutes to go as both sides were being boosted by a deafening level of support from the stands. That 13-1 run had changed the game entirely and with a leggy LTBC team on the ropes, it seemed a matter of time before the Elite pulled away. Instead, Middlesex dug deep and refused to fall away. Both teams traded blows with nobody sure which way the contest would go. With 7 lead changes in the final 10 minutes alone, each basket was greeted by a deafening roar. When Krasauskas hit a basket inside with 90 seconds to go, a 4-point lead for Middlesex looked like it may be enough at that stage, but Birmingham's Janis Steda hit a short shot of his own, getting fouled in the process before dusting himself off to sink the and-1. From there, 56 agonising seconds passed with without a basket. Unfortunately for Birmingham, that stalemate was ended by the final buzzer and Middlesex were the ones heading home victorious. Dejected Birmingham players littered the court as LTBC celebrated, a stark contrast in emotions that sport is so impressive at creating. In reality, both teams had a lot to be proud of in a spectacle that should be remembered for a long time to come. Courtesy of: basketballengland.co.uk
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