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)
The history keeps on happening in the WBBL and it proved to be a landmark and dramatic Saturday as Caledonia Pride came back from a double-digit deficit to stun Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 79-78 and take a first ever home floor victory. Natalie Bastian sunk the crucial free-throws at the death and also top-scored, but it was a pair of go-ahead triples from Scottish guard Hannah Robb heading into crunch time which made the difference. There was then drama at the unveiling of the... [read more]
The history keeps on happening in the WBBL and it proved to be a landmark and dramatic Saturday as Caledonia Pride came back from a double-digit deficit to stun Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 79-78 and take a first ever home floor victory.
Natalie Bastian sunk the crucial free-throws at the death and also top-scored, but it was a pair of go-ahead triples from Scottish guard Hannah Robb heading into crunch time which made the difference.
There was then drama at the unveiling of the brand-new Archers Arena as Cardiff Met completed a memorable first outing with an absorbing 58-55 success against Team Northumbria as Judit Fritz (183-G/F-87, college: St.Francis, NY, agency: Interperformances) hit a last-gasp triple.
Finally, there was great heart and resilience shown by Manchester Mystics in the third game of the day which was also exhilarating. Great Britain guard Georgia Jones registered 24 points and 12 rebounds as the visitors took a magnificent 82-80 double overtime win at Barking Abbey Crusaders.
Caledonia Pride collected a historic first ever home success in the WBBL after coming from behind to take a famous 79-78 triumph against Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters.
Doubling their league win tally for the season, it was a huge scalp for the Scottish side, as rather fittingly, the game's top scorer Natalie Bastian calmly iced a pair of free-throws to complete a fantastic comeback.
Having trailed by 12 points with less than five minutes remaining on the game clock, it looked as if the Pride's elusive search for a first home win would continue a bit longer.
But, off the back of some very nice defence and a flurry of three-pointers, including a pair from Scottish star Hannah Robb, it put them back in contention.
As Hatters cracked down the stretch despite 22 points and 15 rebounds from the powerful Brittany Winborne, the locals celebrated a hugely exciting victory on home soil for the first time.
The first game at the impressive new Archers Arena will never be forgotten by those who were fortunate to attend after Judit Fritz nailed a dramatic late triple to hand the hosts a gripping 58-55 win against Team Northumbria.
With an eye-catching crowd on site for its first WBBL match-up, the supporters inside the Arena were rewarded for their attendance after a nail-biting but exhilarating conclusion - although it had looked like Northumbria might spoil the party.
They went into the locker rooms at the half holding a 32-24 advantage and having thrown a defensive blanket over Archers.
But after making some half-time adjustments, Cardiff got themselves back into the contest, with Sarah Wagstaff instrumental as she supported the game-winning effort of Fritz with 16-points in a dramatic final quarter.
Claudia Baraut posted a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.
A brilliant team performance underpinned by 24 points and 12 rebounds from Great Britain guard Georgia Jones facilitated a wonderful 82-80 double overtime triumph for Manchester Mystics at a crestfallen Barking Abbey Crusaders.
The home side had been on the front foot for almost all of the game and looked like a lock to take victory, but Mystics would not go away and a late rescue mission saw them come back from 10 points behind with less than five minutes of regulation remaining.
Some great play from Rheanne Bailey including a big three-pointer put them on the path to recovery and as Amy Browne sunk two free-throws, the first period of overtime arrived at 65-65.
It again looked like Barking would finish the job but Jones had other ideas as she made an off-balance three-pointer to save her team again and force another five minutes of action.
Manchester then finally got the edge and were able to finish the job - despite the home team benefitting from double-doubles from Savannah Wilkinson and Abigail Johnson.
There were mixed fortunes for last week's BBL Trophy finalists on a dramatic Friday night in the BBL. Leicester Riders saw their club record 16-game win streak come to an end as they were beaten 93-91 by Worcester Wolves, who were led by 24 points from Danny Huffor. Meanwhile, Cory Dixon scored 32 points as Plymouth Raiders bounced back from their Final disappointment with an 85-62 success over their South-West rivals, Bristol Flyers. Esh Group Eagles Newcastle ran out convincing 96-65... [read more]
There were mixed fortunes for last week's BBL Trophy finalists on a dramatic Friday night in the BBL.
Leicester Riders saw their club record 16-game win streak come to an end as they were beaten 93-91 by Worcester Wolves, who were led by 24 points from Danny Huffor.
Meanwhile, Cory Dixon scored 32 points as Plymouth Raiders bounced back from their Final disappointment with an 85-62 success over their South-West rivals, Bristol Flyers.
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle ran out convincing 96-65 winners against Manchester Giants as Deondre Parks scored 22, while Cheshire Phoenix edged out London Lions 86-87 on the road with Mike DiNunno (180-PG-90, college: E.Kentucky, agency: Interperformances) netting the late game-winner.
Plymouth Raiders bounced back from their BBL Trophy Final disappointment with a much-needed victory as they defeated South-West rivals, Bristol Flyers, 85-62.
Cory Dixon was in inspired form and poured in 32 points to go with 11 rebounds, while Daryl Corletto netted 14 of his 16 points in a pivotal third quarter for his side.
Both teams raced out of the blocks and the game was tied at 14 at the mid-point in the first quarter before Plymouth edged ahead.
The home side went on a 13-0 run late in the second, but a deep three from Hameed Ali ended the first half with Bristol down 10.
Corletto found his range in the third with 11 points in a row as he fired in four triples in total in the quarter as the Raiders extended their advantage out to 18.
There was no let up in the fourth as Plymouth ensured there was to be no fightback from the Flyers with Dixon turning on the style for the home crowd with consecutive dunks in quick succession en route to victory.
A win for Bristol would have put the two teams level, but it's the Raiders who pull away from their rivals with the important head-to-head secured.
BBL Championship London Lions 86 (29,52,68) (Taylor/Hassan 24, Niktash 21) Cheshire Phoenix 87 (21,43,69) (Allen-Jordan 25, May-Thompson 22, Brown 14)
Cheshire Phoenix claimed an 86-87 win on the road against London Lions following late heroics from Mike DiNunno.
The American guard was 0-7 from downtown before stepping up with two huge triples in the final minute to continue the Nix's recent win streak.
Dii'jon Allen-Jordan had a game-high 25 points for the visitors with Raheem May-Thompson adding 22 points in the win.
After a delayed start, the Lions were the quickest out of the blocks and they opened up a 29-21 advantage by the end of the opening period.
Navid Niktash raced to 19 points with a string of triples to ensure the Lions remained in command at the break. However, Cheshire hit back in the third and took the lead on the back of a 14-2 burst.
The Lions restored their advantage, but it would be the visitors ahead going into the final 10 minutes by the narrowest of margins.
London went on an 8-0 run to lead 76-71 but the game went right down to the wire with DiNunno tying the game with a three in the final minute.
Taylor held his nerve with two free throws to edge Lions ahead before DiNunno struck again from downtown for the win.
BBL Championship Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 96 (20,54,72) (Parks 22, Fletcher 17, Martin 16) Manchester Giants 65 (19,33,47) (Okoro 14, Toluwase 11, Jones 10)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle returned to winning ways in dominant fashion as they recorded a 96-65 victory over Manchester Giants.
Fab Flournoy's side had lost ground in the title race with recent defeats, but powered their way to a 20th league win of the season.
Deondre Parks put up 22 points in the win in a balanced scoring attack from the Eagles, who were still without Darius Defoe.
The visitors made a bright start and were down by one at the end of the opening 10 minutes before Newcastle broke clear.
34 points were poured in by the home side in the second as they stormed into a 21-point lead at the interval with Rahmon Fletcher and Parks combining for 32 at the half - one short of Manchester's total tally.
The lead continued to grow in the third with Orlan Jackman scoring five straight to move his career BBL tally to 1000 points and he would finish with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Joe Hart started the fourth with back-to-back triples as the Eagles led by as many as 36 as they completed a comprehensive win.
Jerelle Okoro led the Giants with 14 points, while Callum Jones posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds in his 200th BBL Championship appearance.
History lives and breathes yet again in the Women's British Basketball League this weekend as Cardiff Met Archers play their first top flight game in their fabulous new facility. Player-coach Stefanie Collins(168-PG-82, college: St.Bonaventure) and her side will step out tomorrow afternoon against Team Northumbria for a WBBL Championship match-up that has got everyone at Archers excited and raring to go. She said: "We are absolutely thrilled to be playing our first showcase event at the... [read more]
History lives and breathes yet again in the Women's British Basketball League this weekend as Cardiff Met Archers play their first top flight game in their fabulous new facility.
Player-coach Stefanie Collins (168-PG-82, college: St.Bonaventure) and her side will step out tomorrow afternoon against Team Northumbria for a WBBL Championship match-up that has got everyone at Archers excited and raring to go.
She said: "We are absolutely thrilled to be playing our first showcase event at the Archers' Arena, which is the new, 5 million state-of-the-art sports facility investment by Cardiff Met University.
"It is a wonderful facility which will certainly increase our profile here at the University, along with generating a significant boost and buzz around the game of basketball in Wales and throughout the UK.
"We have had a number of Welsh National Teams use the facility for training and look forward to further establishing those links with Cardiff Met and Basketball Wales."
"We are hoping to attract a record home crowd on the day," continued Collins.
"As well as the game, there will be a performance by Jukebox Collective Performing Arts Academy based in Cardiff, our Junior U10 Academy players taking to the showcourt at half-time, along with other special guests.
"It will certainly be a fun filled day out for fans and family."
"Meanwhile looking at the competition and game itself, we are excited to play Team Northumbria after a tough away loss in Newcastle at the beginning of the season.
"We are definitely in a better place at this stage of the campaign and will look to build upon our improved performance in the New Year."
Prior to the action getting underway in South Wales, there will be Caledonia pride tipping off at home to Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters and looking for a first home victory - having recently got off the mark with a win at Wolves.
Oaklands themselves have a tough task to try and slow down the momentum of newly crowned Trophy winners Sevenoaks Suns on Sunday morning as they continue their search for an elusive first league success.
Leicester Riders will try to bounce back from their disappointment in Glasgow last weekend when they entertain Nottingham Wildcats in a local derby and top of the table showdown, while Barking Abbey Crusaders will also go up against Manchester Mystics on Sunday.
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