London seal final play-off spot as regular season concludes

The quarter-final line-up for the BBL play-offs has been finalised as the regular season came to an end this weekend.

London Lions claimed 8th spot in dramatic style with a last-gasp win in Manchester to reach the play-offs.

The visitors raced out to an early lead and looked in control before the Giants mounted a valiant fightback to draw level late in the fourth before London‘s deadline day signing Rod Brown broke their hearts. The guard, who moved from Plymouth in February, layed the ball in, in the dying seconds to finish with 18 points in the nail-biting 87-85 victory. Tayo Ogedengbe led the way for the Lions with 25 points in a winner takes all battle for the final play-off place.

Manchester were down by as many as 21 points in the second quarter but compiled a 19-3 run in the final quarter to give themselves hope before falling just short. Jeff Jones’ men then finished the season on a high with their third straight win on the road after a 114-92 success in Durham to seal 9th place on their return to the BBL after James Jones top scored with 24 points.

The battle for a top four place had involved four team for several weeks and was finally settled after Glasgow and Surrey picked up the necessary victories to cement their places. Plymouth go into the post-season having lost four games in a row and now face a trip to Scotland in the play-offs for the second straight season.

The Raiders first lost to Worcester, who had a double-win over the weekend to finish their campaign in style, and then fell to a tight defeat against Surrey, who prevailed in overtime. Gavin Love’s men went down 106-69 at home on Saturday before the agonizing 101-99 defeat beyond regulation came 24 hours later as Travis Holmes continued his hot streak for the Heat with 27 points.

Surrey sealed fourth place with their overtime win and now face Worcester in the play-offs. Paul James’ men enjoyed a comprehensive win against Plymouth to end their campaign on a high having ended the unbeaten streak of Leicester the previous day. The Wolves had six players in double figures against Plymouth while Arturas Masiulis had a 19 point haul in their last home game of the season.

With the Championship title already wrapped up, Rob Paternostro rested several key stars in the 86-58 defeat against Worcester with several members of the uni team fielded. However, the big stars returned on Sunday for their final league game and Leicester completed a perfect season at home with their 17th win in front of their home fans after beating Newcastle 86-75. The Eagles took the opportunity to rest some of their big names with Damon Huffman, Charles Smith and Joe Chapman all absent as Darius Defoe stepped up with 32 points.

Newcastle completed their home campaign with a 93-80 win over Glasgow to delay their third place finish as Huffman exploded for 36 points on 6-9 shooting from 3-PT range. The Eagles had suffered a defeat in Sheffield earlier in the week as the Sharks were victorious 80-70 in a play-off dress rehearsal. The BBL Trophy winners then finished their season with an 85-72 win in Cheshire to move a game over the .500 mark after double-doubles from Demetrius Jemison (20-10) and Mike Tuck (18-15).

Mersey Tigers became the first BBL team to go a whole season without a win after being beaten by Durham and Glasgow over the week-end. The Tigers lost 87-100 to the Wildcats in their final home game before suffering their 33rd league defeat in Scotland as the Rocks secured third spot with a 90-57 win on Sunday.

Play-Off Quarter-Finals:

Leicester Riders (1) v London Lions (8)
Newcastle Eagles (2) v Sheffield Sharks (7)
Glasgow Rocks (3) v Plymouth Raiders (6)
Surrey Heat (4) v Worcester Wolves (5)

Semi-Finals– Highest remaining seed v Lowest remaining seed while the other two teams play each other.

All ties played over two legs until the Final at Wembley Arena on 28th April.

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Sunday’s action in the BBL

RIDERS GROUND OUT WIN IN GLASGOW AS NEWCASTLE KEEP UP THE PRESSURE & LIONS AND WOLVES DO DOUBLE DUTY FOR THE WEEKEND

Sunday 24th February

Leicester Riders recovered from a slow start to defeat Glasgow 76-72 on the road to stay top of the league standings while Newcastle Eagles enjoyed a 90-78 success in Guildford over the Surrey Heat (full report to follow).

Pavol Losonsky led the Riders‘ charge with 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists as Leicester made it EIGHT straight victories whilst ending the winning run of the Rocks. Sterling Davis’ men led 24-15 at the end of the opening quarter but succumbed to the impressive defence of the visitors and Glasgow now drop back to fifth in the table.

The teams were tied at 11 after a sluggish start before Glasgow took control with an 11-2 close over the final three minutes to lead by nine. Gareth Murray sparked a 7-2 burst for the home side with five points in quick succession and the advantage had peaked at THIRTEEN points. However, this time it was the visitors’ turn to put together a run at the end of the quarter as an 11-3 spell helped cut the gap to 41-36 at the break.

When play resumed, the Rocks re-established their double digit lead but were then forced into a baron spell for nearly four minutes as the Riders reduced their arrears to a single point as Zaire Taylor capped a 9-0 run with a triple. Leicester finally took the lead- for the first time since mid-way through the first- on the buzzer as they turned defence into defence with a block from Drew Sullivan at one end transpired into an Anthony Rowe basket at the other.

EJ Harrison completed a three point play early with the first score in the fourth to restore the Rocks‘ advantage but that was to be their last lead of the contest as an 8-2 response from the Riders put them up by six. Spurred on by the Emirates crowd, Glasgow pulled themselves to within a point but crucially missed their final SEVEN shots from the field as Leicester could afford three spurned free throw attempts before Losonsky nailed two successfully to clinch an ELEVENTH straight win in all competitions.

STAT: Leicester have now won their last three league games in Glasgow.

Worcester Wolves capitalised on Surrey‘s loss to leapfrog the Heat in the table and keep alive their top four chances after beating Durham 83-79 on the road. The visitors gained the advantage with a strong spell after the half-time interval before holding off a final quarter fightback from the Wildcats. Alex Owumi led all scorers with 24 points while Mike Baldarelli had 23 for Durham and Andrew Keister contributed a 22p-14r double-double.

STAT: Carlos Fernandez came close to a triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and SEVEN assists in 40 minutes.

London Lions also recorded their second win of the weekend after an 81-64 triumph at home to play-off rivals Manchester. The tip was delayed by 90 minutes as the Giants arrived late due to traffic. The Lions weren’t affected by the wait as they raced into an early 29-17 lead and never looked back. Adrien Sturt had a season-high 31 point haul for the hosts while the visiting Giants were led by a 24p-12r double-double from Ben Eaves, who also fired in four 3-pointers.

In the BBL Trophy, Sheffield opened up a 14 point advantage with a 74-60 victory in Cheshire to take into the second leg of their semi-final clash. A domiant 26-12 third quarter from the Sharks proved the difference as they took a step closer to a first major final since 2011. Mike Tuck was in inspired form for his side and led from the front with a huge 16p-19r double-double while Micah Williams added 16 points to celebrate his birthday with a win.

The finalists will become clear next week as the Sharks and Phoenix meet in the second leg while Leicester and Worcester do battle in successive nights in their semi-final. Mersey look for a first win as they entertain Newcastle while on Sunday, Surrey aim to return to winning ways when they host Cheshire and Glasgow play host to the Wildcats.

Friday Night Action in the BBL

PLYMOUTH AND WORCESTER KEEP UP PRESS FOR TOP FOUR WHILE LONDON AND MANCHESTER BOOST PLAY-OFF HOPES

Friday 22nd February 2013

Plymouth Raiders left it late to deny Durham a second win in Devon this season with a 104-100 victory in a topsy-turvy encounter. Gavin Love’s men move back level on points with the Glasgow Rocks to remain as outside contenders for the title.

Michael Ojo top scored for the home side with 29 points but Andrew Lasker stole the show with an impressive stat-line of 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists as well as four steals. Plymouth led by as many as nine points early on but some clinical 3-point shooting from the Wildcats kept them in touch and they trailed by four at the end of the first at 29-25.

In the second, Paul Elderkin topped and tailed a 16-2 tear with a triple as the visitors took the lead at 44-35. Plymouth battled back after that poor spell but still found themselves 55-50 behind as they reached half-time. When play resumed, the Raiders embarked on an 11-2 run to regain the lead at 64-60.

The momentum was with the home side and Javarris Barnett fired in two scores from long range to help give Plymouth an 87-77 advantage to take into the final quarter. However, back came Durham as they opened the fourth with 13 unanswered points to take the lead and keep their opponents scoreless for almost four minutes.

Ojo stopped the rot with a pair of free throws but Durham still looked in control with 3:25 remaining as they led 100-96. Plymouth stepped up their defensive efforts with Andreas Schreiber denying Andrew Keister at one end to allow Lasker to tie the game at the other with just under a minute left. The 30 year-old then put the Raiders in front and when Brad Guinane missed from beyond the arc, Ojo held his nerve to knock down another pair of free throws to seal the win.

Plymouth were deadly from the foul line as they made 23 of their 25 attempts with Ojo and Lasker leading the way with a perfect 6/6. The Wildcats missed their final seven shots including four from 3-point range during a baron final three minutes although they still finished with an overall 62% shooting accuracy. Keister top scored with 26 points but leaked six turnovers while Elderkin and Mike Baldarelli added 19 points each with a combined 9/13 from long range.

STAT: With 21 points and 11 rebounds it was Lasker‘s third double-double in the league this season.

Manchester Giants (9-17) boosted their play-off hopes with an 94-78 victory over their rivals Cheshire (9-17). Devan Bailey put in an outstanding performance with 22 points on 9-10 shooting including 4/4 from 3-PT range whilst grabbing six boards, providing five assists and earning two steals. Chez Marks and Alif Bland led the visitors with 21 points each in the defeat.

London Lions (10-16) stole a march in the play-off race to move clear in seventh after a comfortable 78-58 win on the road against the Mersey Tigers (0-24). Orlan Jackman had a game-high 16 points for the visitors while the Tigers were led by a 15 point haul from Joshua Lockett. The tip-off was delayed by 45 minutes due to the late arrival of the London side in Merseyside.

STAT: Nathan Schall made his debut for the Mersey Tigers following his move from Manchester.

The final game saw the Worcester Wolves (14-9) defeat Surrey Heat (14-8) 99-81 to move level on points despite being a place below in the standings. Kai Williams was hot early on from downtown and finished with 24 points to lead the Wolves amongst a number of standout performances.

Alex Owumi came close to a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and EIGHT assists while Stanley Ocitti also bagged a 16p-10r double-doubleand Aruras Masiulis had 11 points, 12 rebounds and SEVEN blocks in the win. Sam Cricelli top scored for the visiting Heat with 22 points as Surrey fell to their sixth loss in seven games in all competitions.

Next up for Creon Raftopoulos’ men is a visit from the Newcastle Eagles in front of the Sky cameras on Sunday. Also in action are the Glasgow Rocks as they play host to the league leaders Leicester Riders in what promises to be an entertaining game. London entertain Manchester in a battle for the play-offs clash; Worcester travel to Durham to take on the Wildcats and Sheffield Sharks play Cheshire in the first leg of the BBL Trophy semi-final.

 

Weekend round-up in the BBL

DOUBLE DUTY FOR LEICESTER & WORCESTER WHILE NEWCASTLE LOSE GROUND IN THE TITLE RACE

Friday 15th February

Cheshire Phoenix pulled off a shock 94-92 victory in Newcastle as the Eagles lost ground in the title race. Chez Marks sealed the win on the buzzer to finish with a game-high 31 points while Jerome Gumbs added a further 28. Charles Smith and Kareem Maddox had a combined 59 points for the hosts as they saw their opponents wipe out a six point deficit late on to triumph. Sheffield continued their push to strenghten their position in the play-off places with a 95-87 win against Manchester. Mike Tuck had a 22-13 double-double for the Sharks as they used a strong second quarter as a platform for victory. The final game on Friday saw Worcester complete an emphatic 119-64 demolition of the Mersey Tigers. The Wolves made 20/33 from 3-PT range and enjoyed 63% from the field. Six players reached double-figures for the home side with Stanley Ocitti top scoring with 18 points while Gael Hulsen had a team-high 15 for the Tigers.

Saturday 16th February

Leicester capitalised on their main rivals’ surprise defeat 24 hours earlier with an 84-59 success at home to Manchester, who fell further behind in the race for the play-offs. The Riders continued to live up to their reputation as the best defensive side in the league by holding the Giants to 16 points and less in each of the four quarters. Drew Sullivan had a game-high 25 points with nine of those coming from the free throw line whilst providing six assists. Ben Eaves had a 15-10 double-double for the visitors but was Manchester‘s only scorer in double figures. Worcester recorded their second victory in as many days but needed two periods of overtime to win 98-91 against London Lions. The visiting Lions overturned an ELEVEN point deficit in the final quarter to force overtime and took the game to a second period of additional time before losing that 12-5. Ocitti top scored for the Wolves again with 22 points, a feat matched by Orlan Jackman for London. The final game saw Plymouth move clear of Surrey with a 91-89 win against the Heat. The Raiders were perfect from the foul line and were led by yet another high-scoring performance from Michael Ojo, who poured in 31 points. Despite having not replaced Martelle McLemore, Surrey competed well and were forced to rely on five main guys to produce big minutes with Sam Cricelli leading the way with a 26 points personal. Matt Schneck sealed the win with a pair of free throws late on to finish with a double-double of 10 points and 16 rebounds.

Sunday 17th February

Newcastle bounced back from their defeat to Cheshire with a 96-79 win in Plymouth although Leicester continued their winning streak with a hard-fought 69-60 success against the team who beat the Eagles on Friday. Smith top scored again with 26 points and 12 rebounds while Maddox also contributed a 20-14 double-double to help Newcastle keep up the pressure on their main rivals. Leicester were restricted to EIGHT second quarter points and a woeful 1/14 from 3-point range but still managed to come out with the win to move clear at the top. A 14-2 run in the final quarter proved pivotal as the Riders made it SEVEN straight wins in the league. Pavol Losonsky led all scorers with a 24 point haul while Jerome Gumbs played the full 40 minutes and posted 16 points to lead the ‘NixSterling Davis led by example with 30 points to guide his Glasgow Rocks side to a 99-73 win in Durham to cement third place in the table with their SEVENTH win in a row.

Check-out the highlights of Newcastle‘s loss at home to Cheshire (BBL):

Wolves knock out defending champions; Rocks, Giants and Lions all win in the league

Worcester Wolves reached the semi-finals of the BBL Trophy after a 94-88 win over last season’s winners Newcastle at Sport Central.

Alex Owumi had 34 points on 7-12 shooting from long range whilst pulling down nine rebounds to help the Wolves set up a last four clash with the Leicester Riders. Charles Smith top scored for an Eagles side without Fab Flournoy and Damon Huffman with 23 points. The teams were tied at 61 heading into the final quarter and when Sherrad Prezzie-Blue fired in a triple to give Worcester the lead, they didn’t look back. Smith made it a one point game with a three-pointer with two minutes to go but Owumi responded in kind with one of his own before nailing four free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

STAT: This is the first time Worcester have reached the BBL Trophy semi-finals.

Manchester Giants defeated Surrey Heat for the second time at home this season with an 83-70 victory. Steffan Gill was on fire from downtown making 6/7 3-pointers on his way to a game high 28 points. Nick George contributed a further 16 points as he continues to impress with his spell with the Giants. The visiting Heat fell behind early and struggled to get back in the game with a sixth loss for the season putting their title ambitions in jeopardy while Plymouth and Glasgow close in. Julius Joseph had 18 points for Surrey while Frank Holmes had a huge double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds. Prior to the game, Martelle McLemore was released by Surrey after the American has struggled since returning from injury.

STAT: Surrey have now lost their last four games on the road in the league.

Glasgow Rocks continued their push for a place in the top four with an emphatic 97-58 victory away to the Mersey Tigers. The visitors shot above 50% from the field and were a collective 17/18 from the FT line to draw level on points with Plymouth and Surrey in the standings. Donald Robinson top scored with a game high 20 points while four other players (Harrison, Fantazia, Vanderbeken and Wedemire) all reached double figures. Glasgow only held a seven point lead at the half-time break but a 21-1 run in the third broke the resistance of Mersey, who suffered their 22nd consecutive defeat in the league this season. Phil Wait had a team-high 13 points for the Tigers with Gael Hulsen adding a further 12.

In the final game of the evening, London Lions secured a vital win against their play-off rivals Cheshire to move up to seventh place. Tayo Ogedengbe and Adrien Sturt both top scored with 20 points while Orlan Jackman had 19 for the hosts. The visiting Phoenix were led by 23 point hauls from Chez Marks and Jerome Gumbs. The third quarter proved to pivotal as the Lions outscored their opponents 27-15 to take a 13 point lead into the final quarter. The lead peaked at 20 in the fourth and despite Cheshire‘s late rally it was a comfortable win for the London side.