Going into another week of BBL ball, BallinEurope’s man in the UK Sam Chadwick takes a brief look back – with highlight clips – at last weekend’s games.
The weekend of January 20-22 saw a total of eight BBL Championship games take place, starting with the Mersey Tigers (2-10 going into the weekend) against the Leicester Riders (7-2) and league-leading Newcastle Eagles (11-1) hosting the Sheffield Sharks (6-6).
The round was tipped off by the Tigers, who were up against one of the league’s top teams in the Riders. The 85-66 away blowout by Leicester was a poor shooting performance by both sides, who hit a combined 9-of-36 three-point attempts, the Tigers also shooting an abysmal 50% from the free-throw line – I coach under-14s who can hit more than that!
For the Tigers, Morakinyo Williams recorded a double-double to finish with 10 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and a block; David Aliu was close with 15 points, nine rebounds and 1 assist, as was Kris Douse and his contribution of 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists. For the Riders, Bradd Weirzbicki led the way with 20 points and also added two rebounds, two assists and a steal; Cameron Rundles finished with 19 points, three rebounds and two assists; Andrew Sullivan had a double-double by grabbing 10 rebounds along with 13 points, two assists and two steals; and Ayron Hardy filled the stat sheet with 11 points, seven rebounds, six steals and a couple of assists.
The Newcastle Eagles took advantage of a depleted Sheffield Sharks side missing Jimmy Langhurst and Justin Dobbins only able to play nine minutes. Darius Defoe finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks; Charles Smith had another double-double finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals; Andrew Thomson finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists; while Paul Gause contributed 18 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals. The Sharks had a solid contribution from Mike Tuck: He finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and a steal. Nate Reinking led with 18 points, two rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Olu Babalola contributed 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and four steals.
Saturday saw the hosting Plymouth Raiders dominate the Guildford Heat, 98-68, behind 27 points, three rebounds and three assists from Jeremy Bell. Three players finished with double-double, starting with Lehmon Colbert’s 11 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and a block. Paul Williams 19 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, Anthony Rowe 10 points, 12 rebounds and two assists. The Raiders managed to outrebound the Heat, 46-23. For Guildford, Mike Martin finished with 20 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals; Shaun Durant finished with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal; and Tayo Ogedengbe had 10 points and five rebounds. The Heat shot just 1-of-10 on three-point attempts but did manage to get 10 steals.
Two local teams faced off when the Leicester Riders took on the Milton Keynes Lions in a close game, with the Lions coming out victorious, 77-75, thanks to a three-pointer from Adrien Sturt with four seconds to play. Demarius Bolds helped his side to victory by scoring 19 points to go with six rebounds, two assists and five steals; he did, however, commit five turnovers. Daniel Northern was a rebounding machine as usual going off for 16 points, 18 rebounds and three steals. Howard Crawford contributed 15 points and four rebounds. The Lions also welcomed back Robert Youngblood, who had a solid debut with two points, seven rebounds and three assists. Other than that final three by Sturt, this game was again poor from long range, with a combined 6-of-29 attempts going through. Over two games this weekend, the Riders shot just 6-of-27 from beyond the arc.
The league leaders were not so easy to take down, as they came back from a 10-point third- quarter deficit to outscore their opponents in the final quarter 31-19 and take the game, 101-94. The Eagles used the combo of Charles Smith and Joe Chapman to score at will: These two combined for 52 of the team’s points. Joe also added two rebounds and six assists while Charles added two rebounds and seven assists; Paul Gause finished with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal; while Andrew Thomson contributed 17 points and five rebounds. The Wildcats put up a valiant effort led by Mike Capocci’s 27 points, nine rebounds, three assists and one steal. Ralph Bucci had a double-double finishing with 11 points and 10 (!) assists plus five rebounds; Mario Flaherty dominated the glass to grab 15 rebounds and 18 points; while Paul Elderkin contributed 16 points, four assists and a steal.
The Worcester Wolves kept the pressure on the league leaders by collecting another valuable win, this time they defeated the Cheshire Jets, 97-87. The Wolves were led by a ‘line of the night’ performance from Sherrad Prezzie-Blue, who finished with 24 points, 10 assists and four rebounds while Tommy Freeman added 19 points (including five threes) and six assists. A quiet night from Richie Gordon increased the play of Arnas Kaslauskas and the Lithuanian had a near double-double with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists. The Wolves used their 46.6% from behind the three-point line to build their lead while also hitting 64% from the field. The Jets shot just 49% in comparison, getting 24 points, five rebounds, one assist, one block and two steals from Matt Schneck. Bill Cole chipped in 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block while Adam Brown also had 19 points to go with six rebounds, two assists and a steal.
The final day of the weekend saw the Tigers play for the second time, travelling to Scotland to take on the Glasgow Rocks. The Tigers managed to collect their first away win, 89-75, behind a brilliant performance from Myles Hesson: 16 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assists, three steals and block. David Aliu was consistent as ever, contributing 15 points, six rebounds and five assists while Devan Bailey added 11 points, eight assists and four rebounds to go with three steals and a block. The Tigers outscored their opponents 27-17 in the final quarter. For the Rocks, Mychal Green finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Gareth Murray had 14 points and six rebounds while Danny Huffor continues to fill in for E.J. Harrison by adding 14 points, two rebounds, two assists and four steals.
The Raiders and Jets also both played for the second time but with the Raiders having both home court advantage and an additional day’s rest. That rest showed as the Raiders took a close game 81-75. Jeremy Bell again scorched the opponent to the tune of 26 points, six assists and three steals. Lehmon Colbert finished with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists while Michael Ojo added 14 points and four rebounds. For the Jets, Schneck dominated the boards, collecting 16 points to go with 21 points and two assists. Adam Brown scored 25 points while also collecting four boards, dishing four assists and adding a steal, Bill Cole finished with 17 rebounds, 13 points, five assists and five blocks as the Jets outrebounded their opponents, 53-40. Despite dominating the glass, the Jets could not stop the Raiders in the second half as they went down 16-13 in the third quarter and 27-18 in the fourth.
The Raiders continued the nationwide inability to score from behind the three line, as they finished a mere 3-of-22 from deep and a three-point percentage of 13.6%.
That wraps up the weekend’s BBL games here in the UK. Check back soon for more English Basketball news.
Sam Chadwick is the co-head coach of the Solent Kestrels U14 basketball team, along with dividing the remainder of his time among an assistant quantity surveyor job, university studies and sportswriting. Chadwick is now a contributor at BBLfans.com, and you can follow him on Twitter at @chadwick9.