We’re all set for a great climax to the BBL Championship season after Leicester Riders beat the league leaders to gain a slight edge in the title race.
The Riders enjoyed a big night on Tyneside on Friday as they beat Newcastle Eagles 80-64, for their third straight win over the Eagles in all competitions.
It was a game of two halves as Leicester came back from an eight-point deficit at the break and then went on to outscore the home side 50-26 in the second half – led by a 22-point, 11-rebound performance from TrayVonn Wright.
“I think we beat them because our team togetherness and toughness was at an extremely high level,” said Riders’ playmaker Neil Watson.
“It was a team performance, everyone who played stood out to me.”
Watson made the big play for Riders the following evening as they took on London Lions and escaped with a 77-76 victory after the Riders guard nailed a three-pointer from the top of the arc, a play only made possible thanks to a pair of offensive rebounds on the possession.
“It was a real battle,” admitted Watson.
“Every factor anyone can think of played a part in the game and as a good team London took full advantage of all their advantages, and it came down to who could finish at the end.”
That defeat for the Lions sees them drop down to eighth in the standings after Cheshire Phoenix and Plymouth Raiders were able to each take a win from the weekend.
The Phoenix started the weekend however with a defeat as they came up short, 86-78, to Play-Off chasing Bristol Flyers. Tyrone Lee led the way with 25 points for Bristol, supported by a double-double of 23 points and 10 assists from Cardell McFarland.
On Sunday, Cheshire took on Sheffield Sharks, who thought they had forced overtime when Jerrold Brooks hit a game-tying three-pointer with four seconds remaining.
But the Phoenix weren’t finished and Quincy Taylor was able to score as time expired to give the Phoenix a dramatic 79-77 victory.
“It’s massive, especially after the disappointment we had in Bristol,” said Phoenix captai, David Aliu.
“Our point guard, Quincy, did a great job. He’s like lightning and was able to get full court to score a lay-up.
“It’s a massive, massive win and a much-needed win.”
That defeat for the Sharks handed the Worcester Wolves a slight edge in the battle for third place after their narrow 77-70 victory over Plymouth Raiders.
Without their player-coach Daryl Corletto, the Raiders were able to keep it close thanks to a game-high 24-point haul from Cory Dixon.
But there was a better outcome on Sunday as the Raiders beat the Bristol Flyers for the first time in the BBL, 91-72, Dixon once again leading the Raiders, this time with 23 points.
In another dramatic ending, Glasgow Rocks’ dented Leeds Force’s Play-Off hopes with a 75-74 defeat of the Yorkshire side.
After Force had fought their way back from 15 points down to take a one-point lead, it was Rocks’ Kieron Achara who provided yet another clutch moment, nailing the winning basket with six seconds remaining.
Marek Klassen, who led the Leeds comeback, finished with a game-high 21 points while Will Hall had 20 to lead the Rocks.