2014-15 British Basketball League round up (week 8)

Despite undergoing several changes in player personnel, Cheshire Phoenix enjoyed week eight with a pair of wins that saw them head into next week in the top four.

PHOENIX RISE INTO TOP FOUR 

Cheshire Phoenix finish week eight of the BBL in fourth spot after two impressive wins.

They beat Bristol Flyers on the road 86-73 after coming back from a 47-35 half-time deficit. Phoenix climbed to the fifth spot in the BBL Championship after improving to a 5-5 mark, while Flyers are one position below with a 5-7 record.

Bristol led for the entire first half, with their advantage growing to 12 points just before halftime, as Doug McLaughin-Williams hit a three-pointer to make it 47-35.

Flyers started the third quarter well and had increased the gap to 55-38 three minutes into the second half when, but suffered a sudden collapse, with Phoenix winning a 24-6 stretch to not only erase the deficit, but go up 62-61 heading into the final period.

To the dismay of the local fans, Phoenix did not stop there. Having covered a 17-point gap in a matter of minutes, the visitors broke away by double digits themselves and crowned the impressive comeback with a convincing victory.

Taylor King had a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds for Cheshire, Mike DiNunno scored 21 points, and Demond Watt chipped in with 19 points, 10 boards and six steals.

McLaughin-Williams top scored for the losing side with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Phoenix finished with a flourish to hold off Plymouth Raiders 104-98 at Northgate Arena on Sunday and extend their winning streak to three games.

The hosts led for much of the piece before Josh Wilcher’s jump shot put Raiders up 96-95 with 2:14 remaining.

But Phoenix appeared to be spurred on by that set-back and from that point on outscored the visitors 9-2 to claim a second victory of the weekend.

DiNunno came up with some clutch plays down the stretch for John Coffino’s side, as did Julius Hodge, and the pair finished with 17 assists between them.

DiNunno also had 25 points, a tally matched only by Raiders’ Pierre Hampton, who has quickly slotted into life in the BBL but has yet to taste victory.

WORCESTER MAINTAIN THE PACE WITH NEWCASTLE 

Worcester Wolves carved out a 78-62 victory against Surrey United at the Surrey Sports Park on Saturday evening. It was the seventh loss in eight games for Surrey.

The visitors from Worcester held the lead for most of the first half, with the margin reaching as many as 11 points at 42-31 two minutes into the second quarter. However, United managed to keep Wolves within grasp, finishing the second period down 37-45.

Trailing 50-39 midway through the third quarter, Surrey went on an 11-3 run to cut the gap to three points after a basket by Trevor Setty with just over a minute remaining in the frame.

Wolves had a 55-50 advantage heading into the final period, but United were breathing right down their neck, coming within three points in multiple occasions. However, a 9-0 spurt, capped off by five points in a row by Remi Dibo, increased the gap back to double figures and put the Wolves in safety.

Dibo had 21 points and four rebounds off the bench, Alex Owumi chipped in with 17 points and five boards for Worcester, while Kirk Crecco scored a game-high 23 points for Surrey.

Wolves then overcame Manchester Giants 90-81 in the Midlands, prevailing through a dramatic fourth quarter.

Both teams came into the game on three consecutive wins, but Alex Owumi’s three-point barrage led the Wolves up to joint-second in the table, as they remain unbeaten at home so far this season.

The hosts looked in charge of the game from the early stages as Owumi’s two three-pointers made the score 19-14, before Remi Dibo made one of his own for a huge first quarter at 34-24. And that set the tone for a dominant first half, with the score at 53-42 at the break.

But the hosts had a slow start to the third quarter, as a hint of what would come, when they failed to score for the first four minutes. The Giants’ offence, with a 7-0 start, couldn’t fully capitalise on the good work of their defence, and when Owumi ended the scoreless spell with a three-pointer the score was still 56-49.

The game looked like it was settled early in the fourth, when Owumi hit another triple to make the score 75-63 with eight minutes to play. But then the Giants became rampant, as David Watts hit five points in a row to ignite a run that became 11 unanswered points, capped by Stefan Gill’s three-pointer to make it a one-point game at 75-74. The Giants temporarily took the lead soon after, their first and only of the game.

Wolves steadied themselves down the stretch. Disraeli Lufadeju gave them the lead back from the free-throw line, and Owumi hit yet another three-pointer to restore a cushion at six points with a little over a minute to play, from where they saw the game out from the free-throw line.

IT GOT WORSE FOR THE GIANTS 

Manchester’s weekend went from bad to worse as Ralph Bucci’s three-pointer at the buzzer halted Durham Wildcats’ three-game slide with a dramatic 70-67 victory.

The hosts looked like edging a game that had swung one way then the other, until Stefan Gill tied things up at 67 with a triple of his own inside the final 45 seconds to tee up an enthralling finale.

A Bucci turnover then allowed Callum Jones a shot at the win for the visitors with five seconds to play.

But he was unable to connect and Bucci snatched his chance to steal the show, and the win, as Wildcats ended Giants’ three-game winning run.

That crucial triple was Bucci’s fourth of the night as he finished with 16 points, as well as 13 rebounds, while team-mate Fran Urli led all scorers with 18 and 10 boards.

Jones and Gill scored 15 points each for the Manchester club.

ELSEWHERE 

Newcastle Eagles continued their sizzling form and started the weekend by maintaining the pressure on their pursuers at the top of the BBL, beating old foes Glasgow Rocks 103-93.

The Eagles made it eight league wins in a row, and went through the century mark for the second consecutive home game.

Charles Smith, who so often haunts the Rocks, led the way with 23 points on the night as he became the fifth highest all-time scorer in the BBL. He was backed up by British big man Darius Defoe on 17 points, while the Rocks were led by his compatriot Kieran Achara on 22.

The Rocks, coming into the game on the back of consecutive wins, took an early lead on a massive 19-2 first quarter surge, having trailed 9-0, and still led after the first ten minutes.

But that didn’t last long as the Eagles tied the game at 28 in the second before, aptly, Smith’s three-pointer gave them the lead and simultaneously saw him reach his personal landmark. He shot 100 percent in the first half as the Eagles led 53-51 behind his 13 points.

And the Eagles asserted themselves as they came out strong after the break: a 9-3 start pushed them into a double-digit lead at 67-57, and they maintained that margin for the remainder. The lead peaked at 84-67 heading into the fourth quarter, and the hosts were comfortable from there on in as player/coach Fab Flournoy sent them through the 100 mark late in the game.

It went from bad to worse for the Rocks as the Leicester Riders held their nerve down the stretch to edge the Scots 81-78 at Emirates Arena on Sunday and avenge their defeat in the same fixture last month.

It is Riders’ third consecutive victory since losing 80-71 on their previous trip north of the border and sees Rob Paternostro’s men improve to 7-1 in the BBL Championship to maintain the pressure on leaders Newcastle Eagles.

The hosts trailed for much of the game but fought back in the third quarter and tied things up at 74 in the closing stages of the final period.

Tyler Bernardini then connected on a clutch three-pointer to give Riders the upper hand in a nerve-wracking finale before responding to a late Kieron Achara triple with a made jumper to open the lead up to three once more.

JaJuan Smith had an opportunity to tie the game at the buzzer, but failed to connect from long range.

Achara led all scorers with 26, as well as 13 boards, and Tayo Ogedengbe added 16 and 12 in a losing effort.

Derrick Roland paced Riders with 17 as Bernardini finished with 16. 

And the Force were unable to bounce back as Zaire Taylor poured in 26 points as London Lions recovered from a slow start to defeat Leeds 78-70 at the Copper Box on Sunday.

Lions trailed 20-15 after 10 minutes but exploded for a 14-0 run in the second quarter to take control.

Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan drove his side forward with a series of key baskets in that pivotal sequence before finishing with 18 points.

Lions were without their influential point guard Rob Brown, who continues to struggle with a knee injury, but his back-court partner Taylor stepped up in his absence.

Taylor scored 26 points as the London club kept their visitors at arm’s length until Force began to eat into the lead late on, although by that point it was too late.

Will Hall impressed for the BBL newcomers once again, as he tallied a team-high 20 points in a losing effort while James McCann had 17.

Bristol Flyers climbed back to the verge of the top four in the BBL Championship table as they beat Leeds Force 58-73 in Yorkshire, thereby snapping a run of four consecutive defeats on the road.

Douglas McLaughlin-Williams inspired the visitors with 18 points and 7 rebounds, matched by Doug Herring’s 18 points. The hosts were led by 16 points from James McCann and a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds from Will Hall.

Flyers came into the game with five defeats in their last six games, after a promising start to the campaign, but immediately shrugged off that form as they raced into a 12-5 lead, forcing the hosts into an early time-out.

And they didn’t look back from there, despite never quite shaking off their hosts. Leeds lost Armand Anebo midway through the second stanza to a back injury, and soon trailed by double-digits at 29-39, although Paul Holland hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to keep them in touch at the half.

But the game was beyond the hosts when Bristol posted a 13-5 surge to end the third quarter with a 54-39 lead, behind some consistent free-throw shooting, and the lead peaked at 50-66 midway through the fourth quarter.

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