February opened with a busy night in the BBL: fans saw 792 points scored and 81 three-pointers poured in across five games. The Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders reached the BBL Trophy semi-finals in their quest for a second trophy of the season; while in the BBL Championship the Glasgow Rocks and Worcester Wolves closed the gap on fourth as the bottom three all lost, with the race for the Playoffs heating up as both of the clubs above them won.
The teams placed second and third in the BBL Championship fought it out for a BBL Trophy semi-final place, as the Riders prevailed with a 66-82 road win at the Surrey Heat. Jay Couisnard (198-F-88, college: UMKC) led the scoring with 22 points, with Drew Sullivan contributing 19 as both grabbed 7 rebounds. Julius Joseph led the Heat with 16 points after hitting 3/3 three-pointers.
The Riders stormed into a 2-15 lead after Zaire Taylor's three-pointer started the scoring and they held their hosts to just one basket in five minutes, Drew Sullivan adding 4 points in that run. The lead peaked at 4-18 on Sullivan's three-pointer, with more than seven minutes played. But the Heat found their range to end the first quarter as Julius Joseph's triple got them started and they narrowed the deficit to 16-24. And the hosts actually took the lead themselves in the second stanza after a 13-2 burst was capped by Albert Margai's second three-pointer for 37-35. But the Riders regained their footing and scored the last 8 points inside the final minute, with Pavol Losonsky scoring 4 of those.
After a tight third, the Riders settled the game decisively in the fourth quarter with Barry Lamble opening the scoring to set the tone and putting them into double-digits for good; they scored the first 7 points, with the next 5 coming from Sullivan and held the hosts scoreless for three minutes. From there the Riders kept the Heat at arm's length, with the lead peaking at 64-82 on a pair of Connor Washington free-throws inside the last minute.
In the BBL Championship, both the Glasgow Rocks and Worcester Wolves were victorious to maintain their pressure on the top four. The Rocks produced a dominant display to beat the Cheshire Phoenix 87-69, with Donald Robinson recording the highest score of the night with 30 points. The Rocks never trailed after Robinson opened the game with a three-pointer, with the key run coming early in the second as they went on 16-4 surge, Jamie Vanderbeken hitting a three-pointer and Michael Ringold adding 4 points. The Phoenix couldn't get close in the second half and the game was over when the Rocks opened the fourth with a 19-4 run, Robinson and Vanderbeken adding another 5 each.
The Wolves, meanwhile, were almost as impressive in beating the Manchester Giants 75-88 on the road, Stan Ocitti and Alex Owumi (196-G-84, college: Alcorn St.) equally splitting 40 points to lead the scoring, with the former adding 10 rebounds and the latter 5 assists. The Wolves led from early on and throughout after they edged the first quarter, despite finding themselves 11-6 in arrears as Nick George and David Watts, with a three-pointer, scored consecutively. The Wolves hit back with a 9-2 run, with Ocitti hitting 5 and Owumi 4 and then, after being pegged back to a tie at 15, Arnas Kazlauskas hit a three-pointer with the last play of the first quarter to give them the lead. That gave them momentum and they opened the second stanza with a 14-2 surge midway through to establish a double-digit lead at 28-39 behind three-pointers from Carlos Fernandez and Kazlauskas. Two big runs in the third quarter, firstly of 11-2 and then of 15-2, settled the game in the third quarter and gave the visitors the cushion that they needed to hold off the Giants in the fourth quarter.
In the scrap for Playoff places, the One Health Sharks Sheffield strengthened their position with an 88-70 defeat of the Durham Wildcats. Micah Williams led the scoring with 26 points, shooting 60% from the field and 57% beyond the arc, while Mike Tuck added a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. The game was tight through the early exchanges, before the Sharks established a commanding lead with a 10-3 spell in which Andrew Bridge scored the last four points, helping them to a 23-16 advantage after the opening ten minutes. Despite being pegged back by a 10-0 run which saw the game tied at 26, the Sharks dominated the rest of the second in what proved to be a decisive period. Williams hit a trio of triples in a minute to restore order in what became an 18-2 push for the hosts that was capped by back-to-back Nick Lewis three-pointers in the space of 30 seconds. The Sharks led 49-34 and made six three-pointers in the period, with Williams scoring 12 points and dishing out 2 assists. They were never threatened thereafter.
It was a different game in the capital as the London Lions took a share of a BBL Championship Playoff spot after emerging victorious, 88-79, from an attritional affair with the Mersey Tigers. Jordan Spencer led the Lions with 21 points, including five three-pointers, while Adrien Sturt added 17 and 9 rebounds. The Tigers won the first quarter but, despite the Lions getting in front in the second neither team could establish much of a lead throughout. That was until a frantic fourth quarter in which the teams shared 65 points; from a one point deficit, the Lions scored the next 5 points, Spencer connecting from beyond the arc, and established a lead at 62-58 that they would not relinquish. They headed into the final four minutes with a one point lead when Mahmood Diakite made a three-pointer to initiate the decisive spell as, soon after, the Lions recorded a 6-0 run, including another Sturt triple, to lead 84-75 inside the final minute. That was the biggest lead of the night and saw the Lions over the line.
Manchester drop curtain on Senior Playoff Finals with D1M win - 16 hours 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 - 7 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 - 7 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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