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.
The opening weekend of the new season concluded with five games on Sunday evening. Leicester Riders became the first team to record two wins after holding off Worcester Wolves 77-66, while Esh Group Eagles Newcastle started their campaign with an 85-99 victory over Cheshire Phoenix, behind 28 points from Scott Martin (203-G-88, college: Notre Dame, agency: HMS) Plymouth Raiders bounced back from an opening loss on Saturday to defeat Surrey Scorchers 87-63 with all five starters reaching... [read more]
The opening weekend of the new season concluded with five games on Sunday evening.
Leicester Riders became the first team to record two wins after holding off Worcester Wolves 77-66, while Esh Group Eagles Newcastle started their campaign with an 85-99 victory over Cheshire Phoenix, behind 28 points from Scott Martin (203-G-88, college: Notre Dame, agency: HMS)
Plymouth Raiders bounced back from an opening loss on Saturday to defeat Surrey Scorchers 87-63 with all five starters reaching double figures, while Jack Isenbarger netted 28 points to inspire Leeds Force to a 79-58 success over DBL Sharks Sheffield.
Also, Glasgow Rocks claimed their first win after recording a convincing 56-90 success away at Manchester Giants as Neil Watson led five scorers in double figures with 21 points on debut.
BBL Championship Leeds Force 79 (21,38,57) (Isenbarger 28, Marsden 12, Sanders/Matthew 8) DBL Sharks Sheffield 58 (19,33,47) (Poole 14, S Davis 13, Wroblicky 8)
Leeds Force opened their account for the new season with a 79-58 win over DBL Sharks Sheffield, thanks in large to an impressive shooting display from Jack Isenbarger.
The American went 8-of-11 from beyond the arc including a perfect 7/7 in the second half on his way to a 28-point haul.
It was Rob Marsden (200-PF-88, college: Findlay, OH) who made a strong start with eight of his 12 points in the first period as he edged the home side into a narrow advantage.
Two triples from Eddie Matthew pushed Leeds up by nine, but the Sharks levelled at 38-38 early in the second half.
However, Isenbarger began to heat up with a trio of 3-pointers in quick succession to help Leeds establish a 10-point cushion ahead of the final quarter. Two more followed to cap an 8-0 run to put the game beyond doubt.
Isenbarger netted his eighth in the final minute to complete a fine performance on his BBL debut as Leeds start 1-0 in the league.
The defeat sees the Sharks fall to 0-2 in a disappointing start to the campaign. BBL Championship Plymouth Raiders 87 (24,47,66) (Grady 18, Nicholas/Dixon 16) Surrey Scorchers 63 (10,26,43) (Neighbour 25, Ogedengbe 12, Margai/Rollins 6)
Plymouth Raiders bounced back from their opening loss with a comfortable 87-63 victory at home to Surrey Scorchers.
Anton Grady contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Cory Dixon and Donte Nicholas added 16 points apiece with all five starters reaching double figures in the 24-point win.
The Raiders raced out of the blocks and used a 12-0 run to set the tone early in the first and they never looked back. Rhys Carter started the second with a three as the lead continued to be stretched.
Plymouth were up by 21 at the half with three players already in double figures. The visitors kept battling in the second half despite being in foul trouble and kept their opponents from completely running away with the game.
The gap hit 31 points late in the fourth, but the Scorchers closed with an 8-1 run and they now drop to 0-2 despite a game-high of 25 points from Will Neighbour. BBL Championship Leicester Riders 77 (23,39,55) (Clark 20, Bernardini 11, Thomson/Hampton 9) Worcester Wolves 66 (16,42,58) (Kennedy/Huffor 18, Setty 11)
Leicester Riders completed a perfect weekend after seeing off the challenge of Worcester Wolves with a 77-66 success.
Rob Paternostro's side trailed heading into the final quarter, but seized control and held off their opponents with a 10-0 close to the game.
Brandon Clark top scored with 20 points and also handed out seven assists as Riders' depth was evident once again.
A 10-0 run established early control as the Riders were up by 10 on a three from Eric Robertson, but the visitors hit back strongly in the second with a 23-3 run as Wolves made a 9-of-15 start from downtown to lead 32-42.
Danny Huffor moved to 16 points, but the Riders finished the half with the final seven points with Marek Klaasen picking up his fourth foul in the meantime.
Wolves managed to maintain their narrow advantage after an even third period before the defending champions opened the fourth with a 7-0 run.
A three from Trevor Setty cut the gap to one at 67-66 before five points from Pierre Hampton was followed by a big triple from Tyler Bernardini to make the game safe in the final minute.
Riders improve to 2-0, while the Wolves are now 1-1 having won their opener in overtime on Friday night. BBL Championship Manchester Giants 56 (9,31,43) (Y Williams 14, Webster 11, Goffen 9) Glasgow Rocks 90 (24,45,63) (Watson 21, Elechi 16, Lescault 12)
Glasgow Rocks made an impressive start to their league campaign after completing a 56-90 win away at Manchester Giants.
Neil Watson led five different scorers in double figures with 21 points on his Rocks debut, while Anthony Elechi added 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Rocks established their authority with a 15-2 close to the opening quarter as they opened up a commanding 9-24 cushion. Manchester began to settle and edged the second quarter 22-21 to narrowly close the gap heading into half-time.
However, the visitors maintained their control and a late three in the third from Jordan Clarke gave his side a 20-point advantage to take and the lead continued to grow in the final period.
A 15-4 run from the Rocks took the gap past 30 points as Sterling Davis' side secured a convincing victory with GB internationals Kieron Achara and Gareth Murray back amongst the squad.
Player-coach Yorick Williams led his side with 14 points as the Giants drop their home opener. BBL Championship Cheshire Phoenix 85 (18,35,59) (Brown 27, Anderson 21, Wilcher 12) Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 99 (20,42,72) (Martin 28, Defoe 16, Parks 15)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle pulled away from Cheshire Phoenix to record an 85-99 road victory, on Sunday evening.
Scott Martin led the way with a 28-point haul to help his team get off to a winning start as all nine players got onto the scoresheet.
After a tightly contested first period, the Eagles began to edge away, putting together a 16-2 run across quarters to lead by 12 at 22-34. Cheshire scored seven straight either side of half-time to close within three, but would not get closer.
Defoe scored six points in a 13-2 run as Newcastle re-gained a double-digit advantage and a further 10-1 burst in the fourth would make sure of the result with the visitors ahead by as many as 21 with three minutes to go.
Josh Fox scored consecutive baskets to end the game, but Cheshire drop to 0-2 despite 27 points from Earl Brown and a further 21 points from Jamell Anderson on 8-of-9 shooting.
The opening weekend of the new season continued on Saturday night as Bristol Flyers and London Lions began their campaigns with victories. Bristol edged a back-and-forth encounter with rivals, Plymouth Raiders, before a late surge helped secure an 85-80 triumph with Hameed Ali (188-G-93, college: Texas A&M-CC) finishing with 22 points on his league debut. Meanwhile, London pulled away in the second half to claim a 58-69 win away at Surrey Scorchers as Kai Williams and Alex Owumi both ne... [read more]
The opening weekend of the new season continued on Saturday night as Bristol Flyers and London Lions began their campaigns with victories.
Bristol edged a back-and-forth encounter with rivals, Plymouth Raiders, before a late surge helped secure an 85-80 triumph with Hameed Ali (188-G-93, college: Texas A&M-CC) finishing with 22 points on his league debut.
Meanwhile, London pulled away in the second half to claim a 58-69 win away at Surrey Scorchers as Kai Williams and Alex Owumi both netted 18 points apiece. BBL Championship Surrey Scorchers 58 (21,38,49) (Neighbour 18, Ochereobia 13, Ogedengbe 8) London Lions 69 (13,41,57) (K Williams/Owumi 18, Hassan 15)
London Lions opened their campaign with victory after defeating Surrey Scorchers 58-69 on the road.
Nigel Lloyd's side were down 10 in the opening period, but recovered and went on to record an 11-point victory with 18 points apiece for Kai Williams and Alex Owumi.
Will Neighbour (208-PF-90, college: UALR) top scored for Surrey with 18 points of his own as their efforts fell short.
The home side made a strong start and used a 13-2 run in the first to open up a double-digit lead at 20-10. However, the Lions responded in the second to turn things around with a 22-4 spell to lead by nine points at 29-38.
Surrey scored six points in the final minute of the first half to cut the gap to just three points and would remain within striking distance for much of the third period.
London edged clear to lead by eight and withheld a rally from Surrey in the fourth with a triple from Kai Williams making it a 10-point game with less than five minutes to go and the visitors were able to hold on to secure the win.
Surrey have the chance to bounce back from their opening loss as they head to Plymouth Raiders, tomorrow. BBL Championship Bristol Flyers 85 (25,43,65) (Ali 22, Smith 18, Boggs/Vigor 14) Plymouth Raiders 80 (17,39,63) (Nicholas 18, Corletto 17, Dixon 16)
Bristol Flyers produced a strong finish to claim an 85-80 victory over Plymouth Raiders in their opening league fixture.
The Flyers have now won eight of the nine BBL meetings between the South-West rivals after impressive displays from Hameed Ali and Leslee Smith - who finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Ali made a bright start with seven of his 22 points early on before Lovell Cook took over with 10 of his own to help the Flyers lead by as many as nine points in the opening period.
Raiders hit back in the second and gradually moved ahead through four quick points from Cory Dixon, but Ali ensured the home side would go into half-time with the lead as he moved to 12 points.
A close encounter continued in the third until the Flyers went on an 8-0 run to threaten to pull clear, but Rhys Carter netted a late three to make it a two-point game at the end of the third.
The visitors scored six straight to edge ahead, but the game was tied at 69 with 4:30 left on the clock. Plymouth went up by five only to see the home side respond with an 8-0 run to lead 77-74.
Ali held his nerve at the line in the closing stages to wrap up victory for Bristol.
Donte Nicholas had 18 points for the Raiders as all five starters reached double figures and the team returns to action tomorrow when they host Surrey Scorchers.
The 2016-17 BBL Championship got underway on Friday night as Leicester Riders and Worcester Wolves enjoyed contrasting league victories. Leicester were impressive at both ends of the floor as they recorded a 54-85 win away at DBL Sharks Sheffield - in a repeat of last season's BBL Play-Off Final - with Eric Robertson (193-G-94, college: Chattanooga) leading all scorers with 15 points. Meanwhile, Paul James' Worcester side battled from 16 points down in the fourth before eventually seein... [read more]
The 2016-17 BBL Championship got underway on Friday night as Leicester Riders and Worcester Wolves enjoyed contrasting league victories.
Leicester were impressive at both ends of the floor as they recorded a 54-85 win away at DBL Sharks Sheffield - in a repeat of last season's BBL Play-Off Final - with Eric Robertson (193-G-94, college: Chattanooga) leading all scorers with 15 points.
Meanwhile, Paul James' Worcester side battled from 16 points down in the fourth before eventually seeing off Cheshire Phoenix with an 88-85 success in overtime behind a combined 43 points from Jermel Kennedy (201-F-89, college: Lander) and Andrew Bachman.
BBL Championship DBL Sharks Sheffield 54 (14,21,31) (S Davis 16, Wroblicky 12, Odister 6) Leicester Riders 85 (14,34,56) (Robertson 15, Clark 14, Bernardini 12)
Leicester Riders started the defence of their league title in style with a convincing 54-85 victory away at DBL Sharks Sheffield.
After an even opening period, the Riders pulled away with a stunning 30-3 spell to take full control en route to victory.
Eric Robertson top scored with 15 points as one of five scorers in double digits for the visitors as they produced another impressive defensive display.
The first points of the new season had gone to Sheffield's Tony Wroblicky before Taylor King quickly responded with a three, but there would be nothing to separate the two teams at the end of the first.
Leicester edged away in the second and their defence limited their opponents to just second points while a 10-0 close - including five points from Drew Sullivan - opened up a 13-point advantage at half-time.
The defending league champions then scored 20 unanswered points in the third to lead by as many as 30 points and there was no let up in the final quarter with Riders continuing to push the gap as all 11 players got onto the scoresheet in the win.
Riders return to action tomorrow night as they play their first home game against Worcester Wolves.
Worcester Wolves started the new season with a thrilling overtime victory after edging out Cheshire Phoenix, 88-85.
Paul James' side had trailed by 16 points early in the fourth before launching an impressive fightback and eventually claiming the win in overtime.
Andrew Bachman netted his fifth triple to put Wolves ahead for the final time and finish with 20 points, supporting Jermel Kennedy's 23-point haul, while Marek Klaasen dished out 15 assists.
Worcester had made a 13-4 start to the game before Cheshire began to settle as they moved ahead at 26-27 before taking a six-point lead into half-time.
The home side were 1-of-19 from downtown at the break and their struggles continued when play resumed, while Josh Wilcher netted two of his own in a 14-4 run to help his side lead by as many as 16 points.
Cheshire were still in control at 54-69 early in the fourth, but the Wolves put together an incredible 22-2 run to re-take the lead and move up by five as Bachman netted three triples in the dramatic spell.
However, there was another twist as Cheshire wiped out a 78-74 deficit to force overtime and led 85-82 inside the final minute of the extra period before triples from Bachman and Danny Huffor secured a thrilling win for the hosts.
Worcester take on Leicester Riders on the road tomorrow, while Cheshire look to try and bounce back as they host Esh Group Eagles Newcastle, on Sunday.
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