It was a weekend to remember for the visiting teams as the 2015-16 BBL championship tipped off.
Of the six games on tap, five were won by the road team, with only Worcester Wolves able to enjoy a home win.
As the only club with two games scheduled, Cheshire Phoenix missed out on a chance to climb to the top of the standings in week one after they suffered an 87-75 defeat against Manchester Giants on Sunday.
The Phoenix were hoping to celebrate a win in their brand new arena at Cheshire Oaks, but the Giants, led by debutant player-coach Yorick Williams, had other ideas.
Olu Babalola (21 points), Stefan Gill (19) and Callum Jones (18) combined for 58 points as the Giants took control of the game in the second half.
Phoenix did take one win from the weekend as they held on to win 82-68 at Leeds Force on Friday. Phoenix captain David Aliu had a team-high 18 points, while Leeds’ top scorer was Great Britain centre Zak Wells with 21.
Champions Newcastle Eagles got off to a winning start at Sheffield Sharks, 85-78, but had to work for the victory. Charles Smith led the Eagles with 25 points and made some key baskets down the stretch, including a three-pointer which gave his side the lead with four minutes remaining.
“It was the first game of the season and both teams had something to prove,” said Eagles’ Andy Thompson, who chipped in with 13 points.
“We just clicked a bit better on defence near the end, made them force up some tough shots and were able to hold out for the win.
“When you’ve got someone like Charles, who can knock down threes, it’s going to make it easier for you.”
He added, “Obviously you can’t always rely on that, the shots are not always going to drop but our defence in the last couple of minutes made the game our own.”
Surrey Scorchers’ debut was a winning one as the Guildford-based side enjoyed a 71-68 win at Bristol Flyers on Saturday. Tayo Ogedengbe, who led the Scorchers with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds, also provided the assist on the winning basket by Andreas Schreiber.
Nigel Lloyd’s return to head coaching got off to a great start as his London Lions put in a great team performance to win 79-69 at Plymouth Raiders, led by a 17-point haul from Nick Lewis.
“I thought it was a very good, professional win by our team,” said Lloyd.
“I thought Jamal Williams gave us a big lift, hitting a couple of big shots and also defensively.
“Brian Voelkel, for his first game in the BBL, I thought played really, really well. He contributed in a lot of ways, such as rebounding, scoring and assists, and that’s what we brought him in to do.
“Nick was the key because he kept the offence ticking over. Overall, I thought the team defence was great and that was spearheaded by Joe Ikhinmwin and Jamal.”
Finally, Worcester Wolves’ new-look side enjoyed an 80-69 win over Glasgow Rocks on Friday, but had to work hard to defeat the Scottish side. The former Riders duo of Pavol Losonsky (20 points) and Jay Couisnard (19) led the Wolves to victory, while the Rocks’ BBL rookie Warren Gillis led all scorers with 22.