Newcastle Eagles are within touching distance of the BBL Cup final after a dominant 107-90 victory at UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders on Sunday evening.
Even without player-coach Fab Flournoy playing a minute, the Eagles gave themselves a big lead to take into Friday’s second leg at Sport Central. Damon Huffman and Charles Smith did most of the damage for the holders as they poured in 29 points apiece.
It completed a good weekend for the reigning champions who put a two week lay-off behind them to defeat Cheshire 95-69 at Sport Central on Friday night with Darius Defoe leading all scorers with 19 points.
The home side led for the vast majority of the game, and enjoyed a 31-point lead at 63-32 midway through the third quarter. Despite a valiant effort from the visitors to get themselves back into the contest, the home side held on for the victory and keep up the pressure on the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders at the top of the table.
Leicester Riders continued their fine form with their seventh straight home win as a dominant second half performance to beat the Durham Wildcats 91-68. Anthony Rowe led the hosts on his debut with a massive double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds, while Pavol Losonsky added 25 points.
The game had been close early on, tied at 23 after the first quarter. But the Riders finished the second quarter with an 8-2 run, including seven for Losonsky, for a 40-32 lead and they never looked back.
While Raiders’ Cup hopes are hanging by a thread, there was better news for them in the BBL Championship as Gavin Love’s side as they made the trip up to the EIS, Sheffield on Friday night and came away victorious as they defeated the One Health Sharks Sheffield 99-71 thanks partly to 23 points from Mike Ojo.
London Lions can also look back at the weekend with satisfaction as they picked up wins in both their games.
Lions fought back from a 19-point first period deficit on Friday evening to defeat Worcester Wolves 94-76 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
After that poor start, Vince Macaulay’s team spent the next three quarters clawing their way back into the contest and a 12-2 start to the final period saw the Lions take the lead for the first time in the contest with the score at 74-65 midway through the final term. The Wolves got back to within a point at 74-73, but an 11-0 finish to the game from the home side saw the Lions secure the all-important victory with Orlan Jackman’s 22 points going a long way to help.
Jackman continued his impressive rookie BBL season with a double-double of 15 points and 16 rebounds for Lions on Sunday as basement side Mersey Tigers were comfortably beaten 86-60.
There was some better news for Wolves the following night as they edged past One Health Sharks Sheffield by 71-68, using a key second quarter run in a tight game. Stanley Ocitti led the Wolves with a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds, supported by 19 from Arnas Kazlauskas, who hit four three-pointers.
Cheshire bounced back from that loss in Newcastle to strengthen their play-off challenge with a 106-72 win against Durham Wildcats.
Chez Marks continued his fine form with 26 points, whilst veteran forward Shawn Myers claimed a double-double as the Northgate Arena celebrated a second consecutive home success.
Finally, Surrey Heat kept up their good start to the season with a 74-54 victory at Mersey Tigers, with twins Travis and Chavis Holmes scoring 34 points between them.