London Lions 89-68 Newcastle Eagles (29-22, 53-38, 74-46)
(Lions: Best, 20; Sharma, 16; Soluade, 12 — Eagles: Gordon, 21; Johnson, 14; Defoe, 12)
Plymouth City Patriots 68-85 Cheshire Phoenix (19-22, 36-36, 52-62)
(Patriots: Bissainthe, 13; Hassan/Brandon, 12; Iyekekpolor, 10 — Phoenix: Austin Jr., 21; Jack, 19; Archibald, 14)
Manchester Giants 82-83 Leicester Riders (17-17, 43-31, 65-58)
(Giants: Green, 21; Williams, 15; Lee, 14 — Riders: Love, 17; Whelan, 15; Jackson, 13)
Caledonia Gladiators 102-77 Surrey Scorchers (29-21, 59-40, 74-58)(Gladiators: Alihodzic, 21; Bailey, 18; Durham, 16 — Scorchers: McFolley, 18; Johnson, 14; Jacdonmi, 13)
BBL Championship winners the London Lions continued their form going into the playoffs with an 89-68 win over the Newcastle Eagles at the CopperBox Arena on Sunday afternoon.
On paper, it looked like a comfortable win for the champions, but Newcastle made London work hard for their win, especially in the first half, but a 21-8 third period, sealed the deal.
Aaron Best went 6/10 from three-point land to lead the Lions with 20 points and seven rebounds.
The Eagles were led by 21 points on 52% shooting from Justin Gordon, but with two games left, and a potential finale against Plymouth City Patriots for the eighth spot on the horizon, time is running out for the north-east outfit.
They travel to Caledonia Gladiators on Thursday.
Newcastle came out strongly having relied on their three-point shooting in the early going, they switched to their inside game and as a result, took an 11-7 lead.
London recovered from a slow start, taking advantages of broken offensive plays for their counterparts, and thanks to six straight points from Luke Nelson along with a bucket from Tomislav Zubcic, handed the hosts a 27-20 advantage, which they maintained heading into the second.
Going into the second and Eagles’ three-point troubles continued but were able to get numerous second chance opportunities. However, London still kept their seven-point lead even though they were being out-rebounded and made to work for every field goal attempt.
But Newcastle’s coverage was starting to fade towards the end of the second as they left Mo Soluade and Miye Oni open for back-to-back three-pointers to hand London a 42-31 lead with 4:28 to go.
And as the half drew to a close, the champions started to execute and a three from Aaron Best on the buzzer gave the hosts a 53-38 cushion.
The offensive execution was solid from the Lions in the third, as a 13-4 run, capped by a three from Oni gave A 68-42 lead en route to a 74-46 advantage after three.
Eagles continued to battle in the fourth, with great link up play between David Cohn and Jermel Kennedy ending with the latter hammering it home narrowing the gap to 20, but the deficit was too large as the race for the final playoff spot intensifies.
A blistering second half lifted Cheshire Phoenix to an 85-68 win over the Plymouth City Patriots at the Pavilions.
Neither team could be separated in the first half of play until the Phoenix rose above their counterparts in a dominant second half display that saw the visitors outscore the Patriots 49-32 and claim the win.
Larry Austin Jr. led the winners with a solid double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds with Maceo Jack adding 19.
Despite succumbing to their third straight defeat, Plymouth hold on to the eighth spot and are still in control heading into the final two games of the BBL Championship season.
Ralph Bissainthe paced Plymouth with 13 points.
Cheshire had the upper hand to start as the first four minutes saw both teams struggle from outside and rely on their inside game, but Marcus Evans found some joy from the mid-range, as his corner jumper gave the Phoenix an 11-7 cushion.
From there, the energetic Otas Iyekekpolor single-handedly put Plymouth back into the game with five quick points and with his guidance, the hosts narrowed the gap as the visitors went through a cold spell, missing their next five shots.
Rashad Hassan deservedly put the Patriots ahead inside at 17-15 before finally Austin Jr. connected on a tough lay-up to tie the game at 17-17 with two minutes remaining and as the pace quickened, it favoured Cheshire as they led 22-19 after one.
Despite a strong start from the Phoenix, Plymouth hit back as a three from Ty Gadsden and a corner jumper from Isa Brandon narrowed the gap to 27-26 with 7:43 left in the second.
The play turned scrappy, with Plymouth fighting for the last spot in the post-season, they battled and hustled for everything and eventually they knotted things up at 34-34 thanks to a long two from Hassan with 1:34 left and that’s how it stayed at the half.
It was a matter of who would come out of the gates faster in a crucial game towards the end of the BBL Championship season. It didn’t take long for that question to be answered.
A 17-2 burst from the Phoenix stretching for the first six minutes of the third put the visitors up 53-38 and despite Brandon connecting from deep, Cheshire were in control heading into the fourth.
Plymouth were only down by ten points in the fourth and had their chance. However, a 7-0 start by Cheshire put that plan on ice, as the Patriots could not recover.
Leicester Riders left it late but overcame the Manchester Giants 83-82 on Retro Night at the National Basketball Performance Centre.
After missing a pair throws, Manchester were made to pay as Kimbal MacKenzie drilled a free throw line jumper with 1:05 left to hand Leicester an 83-82 lead.
Giants had their opportunities to win it, but squandered both chances as the Riders snuck away with a slender win.
Carrington Love led Leicester with 17 points on 6/10 shooting, supported by three triples from Patrick Whelan en route to 15.
Tajh Green had 21 points to lead Manchester.
With both sides tied at 17-17 after the first quarter in a period where both teams were unable to break away from each other, a 12-0 start to the second from Manchester, highlighted by a contested three by Dirk Williams gave the hosts a 29-17 cushion with less than three minutes of the second played.
Out of the timeout, MacKenzie hit Leicester’s first eight points on the board, but the strong start to the second, capped by a three from the wing from Rahmon Fletcher gave Manchester a 41-25 cushion with 2:54 left.
Leading 43-31 heading into the third, the Riders entered the quarter getting stops and turning that into points at the other end as a dunk in the open floor from Zach Jackson shrunk the Giants’ lead to 45-42 with three minutes played.
Jackson then gave Riders the lead at 47-46 with a jumper, which was quickly responded by a mid-ranger from Green for Manchester. As the third ended, the hosts ended it on a 7-0 run to take a 65-58 cushion.
For the Giants superiority in the game, leading by the majority, they were never able to pull away from Leicester and with 3:40 left, found themselves only up 77-76 as a couple of baskets on the fast break from the visitors put the contest firmly in the balance.
Fortunately for the Riders, it swung in their favour.
Caledonia Gladiators overcame the Surrey Scorchers 102-77 at the Emirates Arena.
Fahro Alihodzic went 8/11 from the field to lead the way with 21 points for the Gladiators as they led to tip to buzzer against a Surrey side who battled throughout.
Josh McFolley paced the Scorchers with 18 points.
Focusing on their inside play, Caledonia were able to take an early 9-2 lead as Surrey relied on three-point shooting and long jumpers to which nothing was dropping.
McFolley finally connected on a three for the Scorchers, but the Gladiators were in firm control as a three-point play from Alihodzic followed by a score inside from Kyle Jimenez to give the hosts a 14-5 lead.
It was McFolley who stringed a second three of the quarter, but Surrey couldn’t get closer than four points as Caledonia led 29-21 after the first.
A strong lay-up from former Great Britain Olympian Andrew Lawrence got the Scorchers off to a good start but a 10-3 run from the hosts following that score restored the Gladiators’ double-digit lead (39-26) with less than three minutes played in the second.
It was one way traffic for chunks of the quarter, highlighted by a transition dunk from David Sloan to give the hosts a 50-32 advantage as Caledonia outscored Surrey 30-19 to take a 59-40 lead at the half.
Trailing by 19, Surrey did not let the deficit bother them and finished at a high rate in the early stages of the third and with 5:20 left in the quarter, a quick 6-0 run narrowed the gap to 65-54.
But Caledonia maintained their double-digit lead throughout the period, a lay-up from Alihodzic gave his side a 74-58 cushion in the dying seconds.
Despite some battling from the Scorchers in the final ten, the gap was too much for them to overcome.