There's a certain BBL Trophy Final MVP this week and a couple of players who had such a good weekend, they met the criteria twice over.
BJ Holmes (One Health Sharks Sheffield; pictured)
Yes, it's the most apt starting point for our fabulous five as the MVP and game winner of the 2013 BBL Trophy Final takes his place in our line-up. Holmes held his nerve in front of 5,000 fans to sink the decisive free-throws which put One Health Sharks Sheffield on top of the podium and ended any prospect of a Riders clean sweep. In addition to showing his ice cool composure in crunch time, Holmes also had 25 points, mainly via some devastating perimeter shooting. He made five triples from just seven attempts and also added seven rebounds and three assists on a memorable afternoon at the Emirates Arena.
It's so often the case that players return to haunt their former clubs and this was most definitely the case for Williams who stung Cheshire Phoenix with a game-winning display for Worcester Wolves who rolled to an impressive eighth BBL Championship victory in a row. The visitors racked up a huge 121 points, of which 29 were expertly crafted by the shooting ace. He was a real thorn in the side of his ex-employers and a danger from all over the floor as Phoenix struggled to shackle him. Williams didn't just amass an excellent points contribution, he also claimed seven rebounds, dished up four assists, grabbed a steal and even come up with a rare blocked shot to secure his debut BBL Team of the Week berth.
It was an outstanding weekend for the small forward both individually and for his team. Holmes was so good that he produced two performances good enough to get into our starting five. Firstly, he was the main man in the terrific win on Tyneside against Newcastle Eagles, with 19 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals, but then went even better 48 hours later against Mersey Tigers. He finished with 26 points from an efficient 8 of 11 floor shooting at the hoop, knocked down a couple of triples and continued with his usually impressive all round game, by adding six rebounds, five assists four steals and two blocks.
As was the case with Travis Holmes, the Wolves forward conjured up two wonderful displays over the weekend, both worthy of inclusion in our starting five. Having been the main architect of the win last Friday against London Lions, he followed this up with another exceptional effort 24 hours later to take down Cheshire Phoenix. In fact, Ocitti came up with the best performance of the entire weekend in the BBL as he showed his shooting range with a stunning six triples from eight attempts. His 27 point haul was complimented by five assists and he completed a double-double by adding 10 rebounds for good measure.
The forward could barely miss during a real purple patch of shooting in last Sunday's comfortable home success against Mersey Tigers. It's little surprise he gets into our starting five for the third time this season, after making a terrific seven of eight from the floor on a great shooting night. Despite playing limited minutes as Heat head coach Creon Raftopoulos rotated his bench, Cricelli still managed to find a noteworthy seven rebounds, five assists and three steals to help his side move back into the top four of the BBL Championship standings.
Off The Bench - Andrew Keister (Durham Wildcats), Arturas Masiulis (Worcester Wolves), Ralph Bucci (Durham Wildcats), Gabe Haskins (Cheshire Phoenix), Rod Brown (London Lions), Charles Smith (Newcastle Eagles), Kareem Maddox (Newcastle Eagles)
Just four teams remain in the BBL Play-Offs after London Lions, Leicester Riders, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle and Worcester Wolves advanced to the Semi-Finals. Leicester defeated Surrey Scorchers 94-58 in convincing fashion with a balanced attack, and they will face London next as they went through despite a 71-62 loss away at Glasgow Rocks. Worcester completed a four-point aggregate win against DBL Sharks Sheffield as Danny Huffor netted 23 points in an 86-84 home victory. Also, the Ea... [read more]
Just four teams remain in the BBL Play-Offs after London Lions, Leicester Riders, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle and Worcester Wolves advanced to the Semi-Finals.
Leicester defeated Surrey Scorchers 94-58 in convincing fashion with a balanced attack, and they will face London next as they went through despite a 71-62 loss away at Glasgow Rocks.
Worcester completed a four-point aggregate win against DBL Sharks Sheffield as Danny Huffor netted 23 points in an 86-84 home victory.
Also, the Eagles held off Bristol Flyers with an 84-82 triumph with a combined 46 points from Darius Defoe (204-F-84) and Rahmon Fletcher helping them through.
BBL Play-Off Semi-Finals
Riders (1) v Lions (6) Eagles (2) v Wolves (5)
Dates and times of games will be confirmed on Monday 01 May
BBL Play-Offs, Quarter-Finals, Second Leg Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 84 (21,46,67) (Defoe 26, Fletcher 20, Parks 12) Bristol Flyers 82 (26,47,65) (Ali 24, Boggs 20, Cosby 12)
Eagles win 181-176 on aggregate.
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle secured a spot in the Play-Offs Semi-Finals after beating Bristol Flyers 84-82 at Sport Central for a five-point aggregate triumph.
The Eagles had led by as many as 33 points in the First Leg before Bristol's revival and the Second Leg proved to be a close-fought battle throughout.
Darius Defoe produced a big performance for the Eagles with 26 points and 10 rebounds with Rahmon Fletcher adding nine assists along with 20 points.
It was Bristol who made a bright start with a 2-9 run to take the lead in the tie for the first time and they were still ahead by the end of the first quarter at 21-26.
The Flyers restored their seven-point lead at 30-37 before the Eagles rallied with a 11-2 run, though they would trail by one at the half.
The lead continued to change hands throughout the third with Newcastle taking a two-point advantage into the final period. The Eagles led 78-69 midway through the fourth, but the Flyers set an exciting finish with an 11-2 run to take the lead.
However, the hosts held their nerve with Fletcher icing the win with three free throws as Eagles advanced.
Hameed Ali finished with 24 for the Flyers as their valiant effort fell short to end their third campaign in the BBL.
BBL Play-Offs, Quarter-Finals, Second Leg Glasgow Rocks 71 (12,32,53) (Watson 23, Lescault 15, Thomas 14) London Lions 62 (10,33,45) (Taylor 20, Hassan 13, Owumi 11)
Lions win 153-141 on aggregate.
London Lions moved into the Semi-Finals of the Play-Offs, despite suffering a 71-62 defeat away at Glasgow Rocks in the Second Leg.
The damage in the tie had been done in the First Leg with the Lions up 21 and it proved to be too big a deficit for the Rocks to overcome.
Neil Watson led the Rocks with 23 points in Sunday's victory with Kieron Achara contributing a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Rocks edged a low-scoring opening period, but the visitors turned things around in the second to go into half-time ahead by a single point.
Glasgow surged clear in the third after holding the Lions to just 12 points with a Watson triple at the buzzer making it 53-45 with the overall lead down to 13.
The lead on the night peaked at 12 points at 61-49, but could not make any further inroads despite completing a victory to end their campaign.
Zaire Taylor top scored for the Lions with 20 points as they advance to a Semi-Final showdown with Leicester Riders. BBL Play-Offs, Quarter-Finals, Second Leg Worcester Wolves 86 (21,50,70) (Huffor 23, Klassen 14, Setty 13) DBL Sharks Sheffield 84 (16,34,54) (Riley 23, Tuck 15, Rembert/Sing 13)
Wolves win 159-155 on aggregate.
Worcester Wolves followed up their First Leg victory with an 86-84 win over DBL Sharks Sheffield to advance to the Semi-Finals.
The Wolves led by as many as 19 points on the night and had to hold off a late fightback from the Sharks to knock out the defending champions with a four-point aggregate success.
Danny Huffor top scored with 23 points with three other players in double figures as the Wolves continued their impressive form of late with another victory.
The home side led by five after the first 10 minutes and pulled clear late in the second with a 19-3 burst as they built a 50-34 half-time advantage.
After a 20-20 third period, Wolves moved into a 76-57 lead with 7:35 left on the clock before the Sharks cut the gap with a 14-2 run.
Triples from Malcolm Riley and Zach Gachette made it a one-point game and a free throw from Trevor Setty was enough to secure the win on the night and overall.
Riley had 23 points for the Sharks, but their loss means there will be new Play-Off champions this season.
BBL Play-Offs, Quarter-Finals, Second Leg Leicester Riders 94 (28,51,75) (Bernardini/Washington/Thomson 14) Surrey Scorchers 58 (12,25,45) (Ogedengbe 21, Taylor 17, Williams/Rollins 7)
Riders win 167-131 on aggregate.
Leicester Riders secured their place in the Play-Offs Semi-Finals in dominant fashion as they defeated Surrey Scorchers 94-58 in the Second Leg.
The tie was evenly poised after Friday's thrilling draw, but the league champions produced the goods on their home floor to advance.
Tyler Bernardini, Conner Washington and Andy Thomson all netted 14 points apiece with five players in total reaching double figures in a balanced attack.
The game was tied at 10-10 early on before the Riders made their move with a 10-0 run and established a 28-12 advantage after 10 minutes.
Leicester's lead continued to grow with a 14-2 start to the second and they were 26 points ahead at the half-time break. The gap reached 30 points heading into the fourth and they closed out the game in a convincing manner to advance.
Tayo Ogedengbe led the Scorchers with 21 points but they were unable to pull off a First Round upset.
The BBL Play-Offs got underway in dramatic fashion on Friday night including a rare draw. Surrey Scorchers earned a 73-73 draw with Leicester Riders as Gabe McCray connected with a three at the buzzer to leave the tie evenly poised. Meanwhile, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle defeated Bristol Flyers 94-97 away from home as Hameed Ali netted 30 points to lead a Flyers comeback from 33 points down. London Lions beat Glasgow Rocks 91-70 after overturning a half-time deficit, while Worcester Wol... [read more]
The BBL Play-Offs got underway in dramatic fashion on Friday night including a rare draw.
Surrey Scorchers earned a 73-73 draw with Leicester Riders as Gabe McCray connected with a three at the buzzer to leave the tie evenly poised.
Meanwhile, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle defeated Bristol Flyers 94-97 away from home as Hameed Ali netted 30 points to lead a Flyers comeback from 33 points down.
London Lions beat Glasgow Rocks 91-70 after overturning a half-time deficit, while Worcester Wolves edged past DBL Sharks Sheffield 71-73 on the road with 25 points from Danny Huffor.
Worcester Wolves will take a slender advantage back home after recording a 71-73 victory on the road at DBL Sharks Sheffield.
The Sharks battled back from 17 points down to tie the game in the final minute, but a pair of free throws from Danny Huffor proved the difference.
Huffor ended up with a game-high 25 points in the win with Trevor Setty the only other player in double figures for the Wolves with 15 points.
An 8-2 close gave the Wolves an eight-point lead after 10 minutes and they pushed further clear in the second to open up a 14-point advantage at half-time.
Sheffield began to eat away at the deficit in the third with a 21-15 quarter and tied the game at 61 on a three from Rashawn Rembert.
The game would be level again at 71 with 90 seconds remaining before Huffor sealed the win for the visitors to take a two-point lead back to the University of Worcester Arena.
Rembert had a team-high 20 points for the Sharks with Mike Tuck adding 15 points in the defeat.
BBL Play-Offs, Quarter-Finals, First Leg Surrey Scorchers 73 (12,32,52) (Ogedengbe 22, Taylor 11, McCray 10) Leicester Riders 73 (13,31,50) (Clark 21, King 13, Hampton 12)
Gabe McCray's heroics at the buzzer salvaged a 73-73 draw for Surrey Scorchers to take into the second leg against Leicester Riders.
The hosts had led 59-52 in the fourth before the league champions rallied and looked set to come away with the win, only for McCray to strike late.
Tayo Ogedengbe top scored with a game-high 22 points for the eighth seeds with Quincy Taylor adding 11 points and six assists.
As for the Riders, Brandon Clark had 21 points with Taylor King handing out five assists to go with his 13 points.
A low-scoring opening period saw the Riders edge ahead by a single point before Surrey hit back to take a one-point lead of their own into the half.
The lead doubled following another competitive period before a 7-0 run put the Scorchers in control, but the Riders responded with an 11-2 run to set up an exciting finish.
Clark split a pair of free throws to give Leicester a 70-73 advantage in the final seconds before McCray got his off-balance three to fall at the buzzer with the tie evenly poised heading into Sunday's second leg.
BBL Play-Offs, Quarter-Finals, First Leg Bristol Flyers 94 (9,35,53) (Ali 30, Boggs 22, Streete 15) Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 97 (30,53,77) (Fletcher 31, Jackman 23, Defoe 14)
Bristol Flyers kept their hopes of advancing alive after rallying from a 33-point deficit before losing the first leg 94-97 at home to Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
The visitors looked in complete control with a dominant 18-51 advantage, but the Flyers came storming back in the second half to close to within three for the second leg.
Rahmon Fletcher netted a game-high 31 points in the win for the Eagles with Orlan Jackman adding a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds.
The second seeds wasted little time in asserting their authority and led by 21 after the opening period. Newcastle continued to push on and two triples from Joe Hart in a 12-0 run made it a 33-point game.
Bristol responded with a 10-0 run and cut the gap at the half, but another strong quarter from the visitors in the third re-established a 24-point lead ahead of the final period.
The Eagles led 76-93 inside the last four minutes, only for the hosts to produce a stunning 18-4 close with Hameed Ali finishing with a 30-point haul as the Flyers now have higher hopes going into Sunday's reverse.
BBL Play-Offs, Quarter-Finals, First Leg London Lions 91 (28,44,68) (K Williams 27, Niktash 19, Taylor 16) Glasgow Rocks 70 (12,45,60) (Lescault 27, Achara 11, Watson 10)
London Lions have the upper-hand going into Sunday's second leg after beating Glasgow Rocks 91-70 at the Copper Box Arena.
The Lions squandered a 20-point lead in a final day defeat to Glasgow last week, but will have a 21-point advantage upon their return to the Emirates Arena.
Kai Williams poured in 27 points with seven triples, while the four other starters all recorded double figures with Navid Niktash adding 19 points and nine boards.
The hosts raced into an 11-2 lead which quickly became 24-5 in the opening seven minutes. The lead was at 19 again at 31-12 early in the second, but the Rocks battled back and a 15-2 run tied the game with Hayden Lescault firing in consecutive triples.
Lescault had 18 points, six rebounds and three assists as the Rocks moved into a half-time lead. London restored control in the third to lead by eight and a 15-1 run pushed the lead beyond 20 points.
The Rocks were led by Lescault's 27 points and will be needing a big performance in the second leg on home court.
Hameed Ali (188-G-93, college: Texas A&M-CC)
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