The second Saturday of the BBL Championship season saw the Everton Tigers and Essex Pirates in action for the first time. By the end of the night, three teams – the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders, Sheffield Sharks and Worthing Thunder – were all tied in second place in the BBL Championship.
The Tigers, who finished second last season and also won the BBL Cup, were foiled in the East Midlands by a late run from the Riders that saw the hosts prevail 98-95. Tack Minor scored 6 of his 32 points in the final minute and Bradd Wierzbicki scored a three-pointer as the Riders overturned an 87-93 deficit.
Elsewhere, the Sheffield Sharks rounded off a winning weekend as they defeated the Worcester Wolves 71- 100 to build on Friday night's defeat of the Worthing Thunder. The game was all-but-done in the second quarter as Ryan Patton followed three three-pointers in a 15-2 burst with a half-court effort on the buzzer, to see the Sharks lead 29-50.
The night's other winners were joined in second place by the team the Sharks had defeated on Friday, the Worthing Thunder, as they recorded a 93-91 defeat of the Glasgow Rocks on the South Coast. Reggie Bratton scored an amazing 47 points, including 6/8 three-pointers and the triple that won the game with 8 seconds left.
Meanwhile, the Pirates, in their first taste of BBL action since joining the league in the summer, also notched their first victory over South East rivals the PAWS London Capital, by 61-60. Alan Metcalfe scored 21 points, including an old-fashioned three-point play that gave the Pirates the edge late in the fourth. The Capital could have won the game with the last shot, but Leon Nziye-Munango missed on the buzzer.
Essex Pirates 61 – 60 PAWS London Capital
Essex Pirates 61 (11,28,49) (Metcalfe 21, Adu 13, Mumuni 11)
PAWS London Capital 60 (20,28,37) (Ataha 19, Gariba 16, Jivens 7)
The Essex Pirates started life in the BBL with the narrowest of victories, 61-60, against their South East rivals the PAWS London Capital.
Alan Metcalfe led their scoring with 21 points, while Taner Adu had 13 and Walid Mumuni had 11. Santa Ataha led the visitors with 19 points. Tim Lewis, Pirates' Head Coach, said, "It's great to get our first win, especially as the guys haven't been together too long. It showed guts and determination and ultimately a win is a win, and it makes all the hard work worthwhile."
The Pirates had led 49-37 going into the fourth period, only for the Londoners to start with the first 11 points. The Pirates responded with the next 6 to lead 55-48, but a Milek Jivens free-throw sparked a 7-0 response for the Capital to tie the game at 55 with 2:57 remaining. Metcalfe then made an old-fashioned three-point play and the Pirates retained that three point lead heading into the last minute.
Ibrahim Gariba made 2/2 from the line for the Capital, who had two late chances to win the game. Metcalfe blocked an effort with 22 seconds remaining, but from the resulting inbounds play the Capital ran the clock down to get the last shot, only for Leon Nziye-Munango to miss on the buzzer.
Earlier in the game, the Capital had taken a commanding first quarter lead at 11-20 after an 11-2 finish to the period. The Pirates restricted their visitors to just 8 second quarter points through pressure defence, and took the lead at 28-24 courtesy of a 12-2 run. They finished the third quarter with a 12-3 surge to lead 49-37.
Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders 98 – 95 Everton Tigers
Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders 98 (26,39,70) (Minor 32, Johnson 22, Durant 16)
Everton Tigers 95 (25,49,71) (Bell 23, Larkai 22, Babalola 16)
The Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders are one of three teams tied in second place in the BBL Championship after a late rally saw them beat the Everton Tigers 98-95.
The Riders entered the last 1:35 trailing by 89-93 after Tack Minor scored for the hosts. After forcing a 24 second violation, Minor scored again for the Riders before he stole the ball and made a lay-up to tie the score at 93 with 32 seconds remaining. With 24 seconds left Bradd Wierzbicki hit a three-pointer that gave the Riders a lead that they held on to.
The Riders were led by three double-doubles: Minor with 32 points and 14 assists, Johnson with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Shaun Durant with 16 points and 16 boards. Kevin Bell led the Tigers with 23 popints.
The Riders, who had scored over one hundred points in each of their first two games, were fast out of the blocks and soon led 9-3. The Tigers responded with an 11-2 burst, although the hosts held on at 26-25 after the opening ten minutes.
The tables were turned in the second quarter as the Tigers took charge and opened up a double-digit lead after Bell hit the first 5 of a 14-2 run that helped them to lead 39-49 at the half.
The lead peaked in the third quarter at 49-63. But the Riders came back with a 16-2 burst which included a stunning spell as Lataryl Williams passed to Minor for a three-pointer and Minor twice passed to Williams for two triples of his own. The Riders led 70-68 before Bell hit a three-pointer to set up the exciting fourth period.
Worcester Wolves 71 – 100 Sheffield Sharks
Worcester Wolves 71 (16,29,47) (Zabas 19, Harker 16, Saunders 11)
Sheffield Sharks 100 (21,50,77) (Patton 24, Cook 22, Cauthorn 18)
The Sheffield Sharks took a share of second spot as they recorded their second win of the weekend, 71- 100 over the Worcester Wolves in the Midlands.
Ryan Patton was their inspiration with 24 points and a number of key scores in the decisive second quarter. Mike Cook had 22 and Tafari Toney made a double- double of 12 points and 14 rebounds. The Wolves were led by Evaldas Zabas who had 19 points.
The Sharks edged a close first quarter, but took control in the second as the Wolves were held to just 13 points in the period. The Sharks led 22-38 after a 15-2 burst that saw a trio of three-pointers from Patton, and when he hit one from half-court on the halftime buzzer they led 29-50.
The lead was pushed out to thirty in the third quarter behind the scoring of Mike Cook. The Wolves made their only real push at the start of the fourth as Zabas sparked a 7-0 run, but the game was already beyond them.
Worthing Thunder 93 – 91 Glasgow Rocks
Worthing Thunder 93 (28,51,68) (Bratton 47, Cricelli 14, Makalainen 10)
Glasgow Rocks 91 (28,57,77) (Sapp 26, Yanders 25, Davis 15)
The Worthing Thunder moved up to second place in the BBL Championship table after Reggie Bratton hit a late three-pointer, on his way to 47 points, in a 93-91 defeat of the Glasgow Rocks on the South Coast. The Rocks had previously led for the most of the game.
The Rocks made a fast start to the game with the first two scores, and after four minutes they pushed their lead out to 9-16 on a Yanders three-pointer. Less than two minutes later that lead became 13-21 as Sapp connected from long range. The Thunder mounted a comeback from there, with an 8-0 tear that was capped by a pair of triples from Reggie Bratton and they were soon tied at 21, then again at 23 and 25. Sapp and Bratton exchanged three-pointers in the final 14 seconds to see the teams go in tied at 28 after the first ten minutes.
The visiting Rocks seized back the initiative in the second stanza, despite Bratton scoring all of the points in a quick 6-2 start that made the score 34-30 to the hosts. Murray and Yanders responded with back-to-back threes for the Rocks, before Yanders repeated the feat to give his team a 36-39 lead. Sterling Davis hit all of the Rocks' points, including two triples, in an 8-2 run before Yanders and Sapp added further three-pointers as the Rocks led 51-57 at the half. The Rocks had hit eleven three-pointers in the first half, while Bratton kept the Thunder in the game with an unbelievable 31 first half points.
The hosts could make no inroads in the third quarter as the Rocks started with a 7-2push. They flirted with a double-digit lead when a Yanders three made it 59- 68 midway through, before the Thunder fought back. Zafirov scored five of seven unanswered points, only to see the Rocks respond with the next seven. Despite that, the Rocks couldn't quite push the lead out of single figures, as they went into the decisive quarter 68-77 to the good.
Things all changed in the fourth quarter, despite the Rocks finally achieving a double-figure lead as Sapp scored the opening basket. But the Thunders stormed back immediately to take the lead at 82-81 with a 14-2 burst that included seven points for Bratton. There were five lead changes in the next couple of minutes and the Rocks led 90-91 with 15 seconds left after Sapp made 2/2 from the line. Bratton stepped up with eight seconds left to hit the game-winning three, as the Rocks failed to score with the final possession. Bratton was supported by 14 points from Samuel Cricelli. Sapp led the Rocks with 26 points, but the threes dried up as they only hit two in the second half.
BBL Championship Table
P W L Pts
1 Newcastle Eagles 3 3 0 6
2= Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders 3 2 1 4
2= Sheffield Sharks 3 2 1 4
2= Worthing Thunder 3 2 1 4
5= Essex Pirates 1 1 0 2
5= Guildford Heat 1 1 0 2
7 Cheshire Jets 2 1 1 2
8= Glasgow Rocks 3 1 2 2
8= Marshall MK Lions 3 1 2 2
10= Everton Tigers 1 0 1 0
10= Airwaves Plymouth Raiders 1 0 1 0
12=PAWS London Capital 2 0 2 0
12=Worcester Wolves 2 0 2 0