Plymouth City Patriots 51-102 London Lions (10-21, 15-29, 15-22, 11-30)
Patriots – Hassan 20, Brandon 8, Dusha 7; Lions – Dekker 18, Sharma 15, Ward-Hibbert/Tayor 12
Leicester Riders 89-79 Newcastle Eagles (24-18, 17-20, 24-24, 24-17)
Riders – Loving 20, Nelson-Henry/Jackson/Mackenzie 16; Eagles – Cohn 23, Hamlet 20, Gordon 17
Caledonia Gladiators 92-83 Manchester Giants (24-15, 26-23, 17-19, 25-26)
Gladiators – Durham 22, Sloan/Bailey 16; Giants – Williams 27, Roberson 19, Fletcher 11
Cheshire Phoenix 82-87 Bristol Flyers (17-26, 24-17, 11-16, 30-28)
Phoenix – Archibald 22, Evans 17, Anderson 16; Flyers – Miller 20, Delpeche/Mahan 15
On a four-game BBL Championship slate, Sam Dekker led a balanced London Lions attack in the first game en route to a dominant 102-51 victory over the Plymouth City Patriots, despite a hearty effort from the home team’s Rashad Hassan with 20.
Leicester Riders got revenge with an 89-79 win, after a Newcastle Eagles victory on Friday, thanks to Marc Loving scoring 20.
They had to overcome a great 23-point performance from David Cohn, who had to leave the game early.
In an important game for the fourth seed, the Caledonia Gladiators took care of business at home to beat the Manchester Giants 92-83.
Al Durham led the way with 22 but Dirk Williams made the Scots earn the victory after he poured in 27 points.
And the Bristol Flyers showed great grit with an 87-82 win against the Cheshire Phoenix.
Mike Miller came up clutch for the visitors in a game that was tense until the final buzzer, thanks to Amorie Archibald scoring 22 for the home team in the loss.
The London Lions dedication to the BBL Championship is to be admired.
After a successful 7Days EuroCup game mid-week in Poland, the team travelled to Manchester to beat the Giants on Friday.
And before continuing their European campaign next week, they drove south to take on the Plymouth City Patriots.
While the home fans hoped the extended travel might have given the Patriots a chance, the Lions were focused on the task in hand.
Sam Dekker proved this on his opening basket, throwing down an alley-oop of a Miye Oni lead pass to get the game going.
Outside of an early 4-2 scoreline, which saw Plymouth newcomer Ralph Bissainthe get his first points for the side, London never trailed and built a commanding lead by the second quarter.
It was a balanced attack, with six Lions reaching double figures, and nobody needing to play 26 minutes.
Plymouth’s Rashad Hassan battled all game, but the Patriots struggled against London’s size.
The home team’s mascot Pat The Dog gave the Plymouth faithful something to cheer for between the third and fourth quarter with a big trampoline dunk.
But the cool head of Jordan Taylor didn’t let the visitor become distracted by the theatrics, as London doubled Plymouth’s final score.
After a big Newcastle Eagles win over the Leicester Riders at Vertu Motors Arena on Friday, the two teams squared off again at Morningside Arena, again with the home team looking to get a win.
Newcastle came out of the gates well with a couple of early buckets from Javion Hamlet.
But it looked like Leicester were on course to pick up the win as they steadily built up to a 10-point lead in the second quarter.
Eagles point guard David Cohn, however, wasn’t about to let it slip away.
Within the last minute of the first half, he crossed over Leicester’s Kimbal Mackenzie and found space to rise up for a successful three.
Mackenzie, however, tried too hard to recover and fouled Cohn in the act of shooting, so Newcastle got a four-point play out of the trip.
On the next possession, Cohn ran a near identical action at the top of the three-point line and rose up for another successful triple just as the half court buzzer went off.
This meant the third-quarter was a more competitive affair as the pace slowed due to fouls and physical play.
Darien Nelson-Henry had a mini run to himself for the Riders. He showed good versatility with hook shots and layups, as well as a successful trip to the line.
But the home side still couldn’t pull away entirely, thanks to another good stretch by Cohn, who hit a handful of threes and an aggressive layup for seven straight points.
The wheels started to fall off for the Eagles when Cohn picked up a second unsportsmanlike foul with five minutes to go in the fourth while trying to stop a fast break.
The Riders got the ball into the hands of Marc Loving. He scored 10 straight points for the home team, only interrupted by one single free throw for Hamlet.
Newcastle didn’t give up. Hamlet was aggressive in getting to the basket and Justin Gordon hit a big three.
Then Darius Defoe put his head down for a layup to cut the gap to seven with just over a minute to go.
But Mackenzie, not for the first time this season, used great game control to take time out of the clock and attack a pick-and-roll to get to his mid-range spot.
The pull-up was good and the Riders led by nine with just over 50 seconds left, and they relied on good defence to see the game out.
The battle for fourth in the BBL Championship might be the most interesting fight this season.
The Manchester Giants, Caledonia Gladiators and Cheshire Phoenix are all vying for a top-half seed in the playoffs.
That’s why the tension was high when the Giants travelled up to Emirates Arena in Glasgow to take on the Gladiators in a pivotal game.
And you felt the home team knew this as they got out to an early lead in the first quarter.
It was a game of runs, highlighting why they have such similar records.
Manchester’s Anthony Roberson and Dirk Williams connected for a couple of buckets to close the gap to two early in the second.
On an out of bounds play, Caledonia’s Al Durham caught the ball on a route that Allen Iverson made famous, and found a direct line to the rim for a layup.
Good Gladiators ball movement overcame solid defence from the Giants, when David Sloan hit a big three off the pass from Fraser Malcolm to go up by seven.
A quick burst from Manchester off a successful Malcolm three saw Dirk Williams fly down the court for a dunk and the foul.
The Caledonia home crowd encouraged better defence and the team forced Fletcher into a tough pass that was intercepted by Bailey, who treated the crowd to an entertaining reverse two-handed jam.
Each time the Giants appeared to close the gap, the Gladiators found ways to make clutch plays in important moments throughout the second half.
One of these was Patrick Tape, who, with a few minutes to go in the third found a spot below the lead defender when Manchester were in a three-two zone. He pivoted and rose up for two points to stop a mini 6-2 run for the Giants.
Durham was then fouled on a three-point shot as the third quarter expired, and he hit two free throws to retain a double-digit lead with 10 minutes left.
Good defence from Caledonia kept Manchester from building momentum, though Roberson hit a three and a two-pointer to try his best.
Then his teammate, Kofi Josephs, found Tahj Green open for a rim attack, which closed the gap to seven.
But the Gladiators point guard Jonny Bunyan found Durham for a layup.
Durham then stepped up on the defensive end to steal it away from Fletcher, and get down the other end for another bucket.
Josephs hit a pair of threes for Manchester, but it became a fouling defence to close the game, with Caledonia hitting enough foul shots to take the win.
The Bristol Flyers will have had confidence entering Cheshire Oaks Arena, where they won on their previous trip north.
The Flyers player that came in with the most swagger was Brandon Mahan, who scored 12 points on four quick threes in the first quarter.
But Cheshire Phoenix have built up confidence since earning a return trip to the BBL Trophy Final and were out to avenge their previous home loss to the Flyers.
Jamell Anderson showed a cool head for Cheshire and sunk two free throws to bring his side within nine.
The Phoenix’s Amorie Archibald sunk a three to close the quarter and opened the second with a two to bring them within seven.
With no Will Neighbour, the Phoenix struggled for size, which meant Bristol’s Malcolm Delpeche found his way to the rim with help from VJ King on back-to-back scores.
But David Ulph picked up the sizeable challenge for Cheshire. In a beautiful roll through lane, Archibald found him for a dunk, which closed the gap to five and forced Bristol into a timeout.
With seconds to go in the half, Archibald shook his defender with a great crossover in the lane, hit the floater off the bank and was fouled during the act and made the extra one to bring his team within two.
The big man problems worsened for the Phoenix in the third, when Ulph walked off hobbling after an off-ball clash.
In the fourth quarter, Bristol made the most of the size advantage when Leslee Smith stole the ball and pushed the fast break.
When he got to the three-point line, he dished it off to point guard Jelani Watson-Gayle, who fired it straight back to Smith to jam it home.
This created a 12-point gap for the Flyers, and the Phoenix weren’t about to let the game get away from them.
Marcus Evans hit a big three, and on the in-bounds, Jack Hudson tipped the ball away from Watson-Gayle and it went out of play – Cheshire ball.
Hudson found Archibald on the in-bounds and he hit another three to half the deficit.
With the only Cheshire big left, Tahjai Teague, getting a breather, Bristol’s Delpeche had to guard Anderson.
The defender sagged off in fear of the drive, so Anderson rose up for a big three.
A few possessions later, Anderson goaded Delpeche into an offensive foul in the post. This swung the momentum in Cheshire’s favour.
It was tough to notice the Phoenix chipping away due to the fouls and free throws.
However, Archibald and Maceo Jack hit two huge threes for Cheshire with around five minutes to go to pull ahead for the first time since the first quarter.
Delpeche nudged the Flyers ahead, and Thomas Bell III gave them a three-point lead with a layup.
Mike Miller might have provided the back-breaker. He ran in from the top of the key to grab an offensive rebound and put it back up to reclaim a five-point lead for Bristol.
He then followed it up by shaking into the lane and hitting a turnaround jumper.
With the pressure building, the Cheshire crowd cheered for the Phoenix to rise, and Evans responded with a tough drive, plus a successful foul shot to bring them within three.
An errand pass was picked off by Evans, who found Archibald streaking ahead for a layup, which brought the Phoenix within one, 90 seconds to go.
Larry Austin Jr stole the ball for Cheshire, and got the ball to Archibald for a fast break layup attempt that rolled off the rim.
Miller found the ball in his hands for Bristol up the other end, and he hit the mid-ranger to give his team three points of breathing space.
Cheshire slowed the game down but good free throws from Bristol saw the game go in their direction.
After the game, Cheshire coach Ben Thomas spoke to the Phoenix broadcast team and said: “We’re down on bodies, Marcus has also been injured all week, but it’s one that got away. We lost it rather than they won it.
“Mike Miller in the fourth quarter made shot after shot and we missed too many layups.”
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