There's an action-packed weekend in store with no fewer than nine BBL Championship match-ups to savour.
With Newcastle Eagles having had half of their trophy cabinet emptied already, by way of their BBL Cup Final loss to Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders last month and last weeks' BBL Trophy quarter-final loss to Worcester Wolves, player-coach Fabulous Flournoy (pictured) must pick his team up as they resume their defence of the most coveted of their possessions - the league title.
The Eagles are still locked at the top of the table in an intense battle with Riders, for whom incidentally, the clean sweep is still a possibility. And, both clubs are in action twice this weekend, which could potentially see them prized apart come Sunday night, with Cheshire Phoenix the club who could have the most decisive role to play.
The Eagles host Phoenix at Sport Central this evening and then make the 700 mile round trip to Devon to face UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders 48 hours later in a classic BBL rivalry which so often throws up a dramatic game. Earlier in the season, the Eagles came back from the dead in the final quarter to steal victory at the Pavilions.
This is something Gavin Love and his team will have at the forefront of their minds when they step out, and they will no doubt be intent on extracting revenge. They will also be looking to the red-hot form of BBL leading scorer Michael Ojo to continue, and especially against a weakened Eagles team unlikely to have injured playmaker Damon Huffman back on board.
Before the Eagles arrive, Raiders complete the first part of a home-court double-header when they clash with fourth placed Surrey Heat, who have really struggled to maintain the pace near the top of the standings lately and are rapidly falling out of the title race.
Riders meanwhile also face Cheshire, albeit after they firstly entertain Manchester Giants on their home floor tomorrow, no doubt keen to avoid any complacency against the visitors who claimed a terrific win against Surrey Heat last week.
Jeff Jones and his Giants players won't be thinking too much about the challenge of facing Riders just yet since they firstly go to One Health Sharks Sheffield tonight. Both clubs are locked in an incredibly intense battle for a play-off spot, each one of four teams currently sat with eight wins to their name.
There's also an intriguing battle brewing higher up the table, with a number of teams bidding to land a top four finish. Eagles and Riders look dead-certs to take two of those slots, and so the likes of Worcester Wolves, Glasgow Rocks and London Lions are all hunting down Heat and Raiders who still have fewer losses to their name in the battle for the two other berths.
Having dealt a real psychological blow to Heat by sneaking into third spot (albeit having played more games), Rocks will want to maintain their momentum, but will be wary of visiting a Durham Wildcats team who are either stone cold or scorching hot of late - and very rarely in between.
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary in the fight for the top four could be Worcester Wolves. Buoyed by their outstanding BBL Trophy win at Eagles last Friday, they have two home games which could really put them in a hugely improved position by the end of the weekend.
They welcome winless Mersey Tigers tonight and then play London Lions 24 hours later, knowing it is essential they take two wins, because a tenth loss of the campaign would put them back on their heels, at a time when they are enjoying being firmly on the front foot and relishing a BBL Trophy semi-final in coming weeks.
Townsville Heat adds Anderson to their roster, ex Cheshire P. - 1 day ago
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Townsville Heat (QBL) added to their roster 27-year old British forward Jamell Anderson (200-90). He just played at Cheshire Phoenix in British BBL league. In 33 games he recorded 10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.5apg and 1.9spg this season. The last season Anderson played at Leicester Riders (also in BBL) where in 34 games he averaged 6.6ppg, 3.2rpg and 1.5apg. He helped them to win the regular season and make it to the final. They also played in the Cup final. A very spectacular season in his career... [read more]
Townsville Heat (QBL) added to their roster 27-year old British forward Jamell Anderson (200-90). He just played at Cheshire Phoenix in British BBL league. In 33 games he recorded 10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.5apg and 1.9spg this season. The last season Anderson played at Leicester Riders (also in BBL) where in 34 games he averaged 6.6ppg, 3.2rpg and 1.5apg. He helped them to win the regular season and make it to the final. They also played in the Cup final. A very spectacular season in his career as he was voted to Eurobasket.com British BBL All-Defensive Team. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others Anderson's team won British BBL Cup for two years in a row (2013 and 2014). He represented United Kingdom at the 3x3 World Championships in Greece five years ago. Anderson has played also professionally for other British teams like Nottingham Tribe and Essex Pirates.
It's our penultimate line-up of 2016-17 and while a trio took their last opportunity to shine as their respective seasons came to an end, two of our starters will be hoping to re-appear as they head into the Play-Offs! Mike DiNunno (Cheshire Phoenix) As the curtain fell on an eventful season at Phoenix, the playmaker signed off his participation in spectacular style with a typically influential contribution. Di Nunno lit it up at Cheshire Oaks Arena against Leeds Force by harvesting a ma... [read more]
It's our penultimate line-up of 2016-17 and while a trio took their last opportunity to shine as their respective seasons came to an end, two of our starters will be hoping to re-appear as they head into the Play-Offs!
Mike DiNunno (Cheshire Phoenix) As the curtain fell on an eventful season at Phoenix, the playmaker signed off his participation in spectacular style with a typically influential contribution. Di Nunno lit it up at Cheshire Oaks Arena against Leeds Force by harvesting a massive 36 points in just 22 minutes, after sinking a sizzling eight scores from beyond the three-point line. He also had three rebounds, three assists and not a single turnover during his time on court.
Callum Jones (193-G-85, college: Pace) (Manchester Giants) They may have finished propping up the table, but there was at least a smile of sorts heading into the summer for Giants as they ended their participation with an exciting home win against Plymouth Raiders. That was largely down to a magnificent effort from Jones, as he led his team to victory with a quite brilliant line. The guard finished with a majestic double-double of 26 points and 16 rebounds, while adding seven assists for good measure.
Earl Brown (Cheshire Phoenix) Finishing the season with a flourish and arguably the most consistent performer throughout a campaign of changes for Phoenix, Brown was in scintillating form against Leeds. While his team-mate DiNunno excelled in the backcourt, the forward scythed down Force by registering a huge double-double. He did the business in the paint with an astonishing 84% from the field for 28 points and also added 14 boards and five steals.
Leslee Smith (Bristol Flyers) Despite their worrying start to the season, Flyers find themselves in the Play-Offs after a weekend win double which catapulted them into seventh place. It was imperative Flyers got off to a positive start in their double-header and Smith brought the noise in a big way against Manchester. He was sensational and very much the difference-maker in a hard-fought victory against Giants with a monumental 19-point and 21-rebound double-double to delight the locals.
Tony Wroblicky (DBL Sharks Sheffield) The Sharks are now looking to defend the BBL Play-Off title they famously won at The 02 in London last May and if they manage to do it, you can expect Wroblicky to have a big hand in it. He was on fire for Sharks as they ended Worcester's record winning streak by beating them on the road and in front of the BBC Sport cameras. He weighed in with an outstanding double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds, also not spilling the ball once in 30 minutes on the hardwood.
Off the Bench - Rashad Hassan (London Lions), Kieron Achara (Glasgow Rocks), Jermaine Sanders (Leeds Force), Rahmon Fletcher (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle), Hameed Ali (Bristol Flyers), Chaz Rollins (Surrey Scorchers), Rob Marsden (Leeds Force).
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