Newcastle Eagles 85-88 London Lions (27-31, 50-47, 70-65)
(Eagles: Hamlet, 30; Gordon, 16; Defoe, 13 — Lions: Dekker, 17; Zubcic/Taylor, 15; Best, 13)
Leicester Riders 84-81 Caledonia Gladiators (22-16, 43-39, 63-59)
(Riders: Mackenzie, 25; Walshe, 15; Loving, 13 — Gladiators: Sloan/Durham, 22; Malcolm, 14; Alihodzic, 8)
Bristol Flyers 99-60 Plymouth City Patriots (25-7, 54-20, 71-40)
(Flyers: Olison, 23; Mahan, 19; King, 14 — Patriots: Brandon, 12; Bissainthe, 11; Hawthorne Jr., 10)
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 70-65 Surrey Scorchers (16-8, 33-27, 50-43)
(Sharks: Ratinho, 16; Nichols/Ramsey, 13; Nelson, 9 — Scorchers: Johnson, 21; McFolley, 18; Ogedengbe, 10)
London Lions are one step closer to the BBL Championship but left it late to beat Newcastle Eagles 88-85 at Vertu Motors Arena on Friday night.
Having led for the majority of the game from the second quarter, Eagles came undone by a 10-0 run by the Lions in the latter stages of the game, which ultimately sealed the win.
Newcastle did have a chance to take the game to overtime, but David Cohn’s long three smacked the backboard and out.
Sam Dekker paced London with 17 points, cancelling out Javion Hamlet’s 30-point explosion for Newcastle.
The visitors got off to the best possible start as five quick points from Jordan Taylor, followed by a score inside from Dekker gave London a 7-0 advantage.
The Eagles, fighting for the eighth spot in the post-season, hit back with a burst of their own as Hamlet connected under the basket to reduce the deficit to two points.
London’s skillset and experience was enough to maintain the lead throughout the first period, leading by as many as eight points only to be pegged back by the hosts.
And a three-pointer from Jermel Kennedy as the final seconds ticked by gave Newcastle momentum going into the second, but they still trailed by four.
The deficit was quickly turned on its head in the second as a 10-3 start from the Eagles handed them their first lead with a jumper from Darius Defoe – on his 570th game in the BBL – raising the roof at the Vertu Motors Arena.
However, the Lions got their lead back briefly midway through the period as Taylor slid a pass inbetween the legs of Defoe to feed Jonathan Komagum for the easy finish.
Not to be deterred though, the hosts hit back and managed to take a three-point cushion at the half.
It didn’t take the league leaders long though to take the lead again as a slam from Josh Sharma followed by a mid-range jumper from Taylor restored London’s lead again.
The Eagles though hit back as a tug of war over the lead went their way again, thanks to a 10-0 run, giving them a 63-54 lead, which was snapped by a free throw from Luke Nelson.
The run from Newcastle prompted Lions coach Ryan Schmidt to put Dekker and Josh Ward-Hibbert back into proceedings as the momentum was firmly with the Eagles.
London managed to end the third on an 8-0 burst, but Newcastle were still in front heading into the fourth.
However, with 2:18 left in the fourth, London got the scoring run that they needed to get the lead back as a 10-0 run, led by back-to-back three-pointers from Dekker gave his side an 86-82 cushion.
Newcastle did pull it to within a field goal, but Cohn’s last second heave, missed its mark.
Leicester Riders secured a narrow 84-81 victory over the Caledonia Gladiators in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Morningside Arena.
It was a game that Leicester eventually won from the foul line as Kimbal Mackenzie and Evan Walshe connected on their free throws.
Caledonia had their chances to take the game to overtime but Aljami Durham and Jonny Bunyan both missed their opportunities.
Mackenzie paced Leicester with 25 points, going 12/12 from the free throw line, including two vital shots at the end.
“We’re glad to get a win,” Mackenzie said afterwards. “I know we’re going to go back to the drawing board, watch some film and we want to get better.
“It definitely wasn’t pretty tonight, but we’re glad to be on the right side.”
Walshe stepped up for the Riders to add 15, going 5/9 from the field. Durham and David Sloan each hit 22 points to lead the BBL Trophy finalists.
A cagey and physical start to the first quarter was broken open by a three-pointer from Marc Loving, which gave the hosts an 11-8 cushion, midway through the first.
Caledonia hit back in a fairly even first quarter but the Riders kept the scoreboard ticking too as a dunk from Great Britain international Aaron Menzies gave the hosts a 16-12 lead, en route to a 22-16 cushion heading into the second.
And the lead ballooned to 13 points midway through the second thanks to a bucket inside from Loving, but the Gladiators, true to the moniker fought hard.
A tough lay-up from Sloan with 1:09 left in the half made it a one-possession game forcing Riders coach Rob Paternostro to call a timeout. However, the Riders kept their composure and hung on to a four-point lead at the half.
The Riders started to pull away in the third as a three from Mackenzie handed his side a 56-47 lead with four minutes of the third played, the visitors struggled to find any sort of rhythm and looked out of sorts.
It didn’t last long though as the visitors responded with a 9-0 run to tie the game at 56-56 and despite a score from the Riders, Bunyan hit from deep to give the Gladiators a 59-58 lead.
It was to be the final score from Caledonia as they went nearly three minutes without a score, allowing Leicester to build a 63-59 lead going into the final period.
And despite many efforts to claw their way back into the game, the Riders had enough in them to edge to victory.
Bristol Flyers solidified second place in the standings with a 99-60 win over local rivals Plymouth City Patriots at the SGS Campus.
Tevin Olison led six Bristol players in double figures with 23 points on 61% shooting, ably supported by Brandon Mahan with 19, which included five three-pointers.
Isa Brandon led Plymouth with 12 points.
Spurred on by a vocal crowd, Bristol jumped out to an 11-2 lead, capped off by back-to-back scores from VJ King.
Plymouth’s struggles continued in the first period. Unable to register a field goal in the first eight minutes until James Hawthorne Jr. connected.
The Patriots had missed their first 13 attempts until that score whereas the Flyers fared better, leading 25-7 after the first, shooting 45% from the floor.
Flyers were certainly comfortable in the second quarter, enjoying a 38-16 lead with 3:27 remaining thanks to a basket from Olison.
And the lead only grew larger at the half as the Flyers maintained their solid field goal percentage, while Plymouth shot 22% leaving them trailing 54-20.
Bristol seemed to be on cruise control in the third quarter, as the lead grew to 69-29, leading to a strong finish to the period from the visitors.
The Flyers though still led 71-40 after heading into the final quarter and secured a comfortable victory to stay second in the BBL Championship table.
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks bagged a hat-trick of league wins over the Surrey Scorchers with a 75-70 win at Ponds Forge.
Jordan Ratinho celebrated joining the 1000 BBL points club by leading the Sharks with 16 points.
Shakem Johnson led all scorers in vain for Surrey with 21 points.
Reminiscent of their previous two encounters at Surrey Sports Park, the game was slow to get going, with defences holding firm, however Ratinho scored his 1000th point for the Sharks with a three on the wing.
A jumper from Kipper Nichols with 2:15 left in the first got the Sharks over double figures for an 11-7 cushion.
The hosts were able to build on that lead towards the end of the quarter as a three-point play from Rodney Glasgow Jr, gave his side a 16-8 lead with 30 seconds left.
Surrey though got their groove back in the second period. Despite trailing by double digits in the first possessions, they found their range from outside with triples from Tayo Ogedengbe and Ryan Martin, which narrowed the gap to 21-20 with 6:25 left.
But the Sharks preserved their lead throughout the second, even managing to take an 11-point lead with 3:28 remaining thanks to Ratinho and despite being pegged back, kept a sizable 33-27 advantage at the break.
Surrey, who had only had the lead once (2-0) in the contest, finally got a 39-37 advantage with 4:31 left in the third, as Johnson scored inside, making Sharks coach Atiba Lyons call a timeout.
Sheffield responded out of the timeout with a 7-0 run, capped off by a triple from Ratinho. It was a big run for the hosts, as they led 50-43 after the third.
It proved to be the game-changer, as the Sharks’ lead peaked at 12 points in the final period as they boosted their Playoff aspirations with the win.
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