The quarter-finals of the British Basketball League playoffs were played over the course of the weekend with four games being played over two legs.
Cheshire Phoenix 76-88 Leicester Riders (1st leg)
Leicester Riders 77-56 Cheshire Phoenix (2nd leg, Game abandoned)
Riders win 165-132 on aggregate
Last season’s treble winners, Leicester Riders eased to the semi-finals of the BBL playoffs but the second leg was overshadowed by a serious injury to Cheshire’s Victor Moses.
Riders started strongly in the first leg, pulling out to a 31-18 advantage and then started the second period on a 9-0 run to pull away even further.
Cheshire battled their way back into the game towards the end, but the task of a double-digit win on the road was daunting.
Rashad Hassan led the charge with a game-high 26 points for the Riders.
The second leg was just as straightforward for Leicester, but with 7 minutes to go in the fourth, Cheshire’s Victor Moses landed horribly on his ankle and thus the game was stopped until the Paramedics arrived.
With the game effectively over anyway, both teams rather strangely decided to call the game off due to the extent of Moses’ injury, which at first looked like an ankle break was later confirmed as a dislocation.
Jay Cousinard paced Leicester with 21 points in the second leg.
Newcastle Eagles 97-75 Durham Wildcats (1st leg)
Durham Wildcats 82-97 Newcastle Eagles (2nd leg)
Eagles win 194-157 on aggregate
Newly crowned BBL champions Newcastle Eagles had no worries despatching local rivals Durham Wildcats over two legs in the north-east derby.
The Eagles were given an early scare though in the first leg by the Wildcats, who were making their playoff debut. Durham played great team basketball in the opening exchanges, leading to them leading 24-20 after one.
Eagles though took charge in the second period and raced away to the win in-front of an enthusiastic home crowd at Sports Central. Scott Martin and Malik Cooke both led the Eagles with 20 points.
Newcastle made sure that their slow start in the first leg wasn’t repeated down the road in Durham in the return fixture. The champions raced to a 25-15 lead after one and despite being pegged back in the third quarter by a Wildcats side, refusing to give up, Eagles’ passage to the last four was confirmed with a 9-2 finish in the fourth.
Darius Defoe had 22 for Newcastle in the second leg.
London Lions 78-92 Worcester Wolves (1st leg)
Worcester Wolves 86-88 London Lions (2nd leg)
Wolves win 178-166 on aggregate
Worcester Wolves might have lost the second leg but their first leg success in London was enough to see them beat the Lions overall.
The Wolves were always comfortable in the first leg at the CopperBox Arena. They blitzed the first quarter to lead 36-14 and despite signs of improvement from the Lions, they were no match for Worcester’s overall quality.
Zaire Taylor led Worcester with 22 points.
Returning home, Worcester took charge again from the start, leading 25-19 and seemingly taking their foot off the gas for the remainder of the game. A solid final quarter from London earned them a deserved win on the night, but they were beaten overall.
Joe Ikhinimwin amassed 19 points for London. The league’s leading candidate for MVP Will Creekmore secured his regular double-double of 24 points and 23 rebounds in vain for Worcester.
Manchester Giants 60-63 Sheffield Sharks (1st leg)
Sheffield Sharks 78-78 Manchester Giants (2nd leg)
Sharks win 141-138 on aggregate
Sheffield Sharks edged the Manchester Giants in by far the most thrilling of the four playoff games played.
The visiting Sharks deservedly took the first leg in a physical encounter with BJ Holmes leading with way with 15 points for Sheffield. Manchester though kept their belief up.
And they were right to, as the second leg in Sheffield went right down to the wire. Manchester’s David Aliu had the chance to win on the buzzer for the Giants, but found his three-pointer in the corner narrowly miss the target to leave the game tied at 78-78; something that is both rare and bizarre in basketball.
Aliu had 20 points to lead Manchester in the second leg with Sharks’ Mike Tuck equally Aliu’s feat.