Another week, another round of British Basketball League play … the highlight of the weekend had the Plymouth Raiders and Worcester Wolves meeting in a pair of BBL Cup semi-final games. BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, rounds up the action. For all things BBL, read on!
In almost reaching its closing point before the Christmas break, the British Basketball League saw the Trophy final decided when the Plymouth Raiders took on the Worcester Wolves, to determine which would face the Newcastle Eagles in January. Five BBL Championship games took place over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The first game of the weekend saw the Mersey Tigers host the top-of-the-table Newcastle Eagles in what was a closer than expected match-up; the Eagles finally took it, 94-80, behind a nominee for ‘line of the night’ from Darius Defoe: a whopping 31 points, 18 rebounds and three assists. Teammate Joe Chapman contributed 18 points and not much else to go with four turnovers, while Paul Gause finished with 14 points, three rebounds and five assists. The Tigers had three players finishing with double-doubles: David Aliu played all 40 minutes and had 10 rebounds plus 19 points; Myles Hesson added 16 points and 11 rebounds (eight offensive); and Calvin Davis finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds to go with three assists. I’m surprised the Eagles managed a win here as the Tigers had 21 offensive boards compared with the Eagles’ 10, while the Tigers also out-rebounded the Eagles, 45-39.
Durham Wildcats and Milton Keynes Lions both played two games this weekend but started against each other on Friday, the Lions taking the win at home by a 87-74 final score. Another nominee for ‘line of the night’ was Demarius Bolds’ outstanding 37 points, seven rebounds, four assists, nine steals and one block. While Daniel Northern had a bad/good triple-double of 14 points, 15 rebounds but 10 turnovers (!), Howard Crawford finished with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. For the Wildcats, it was Mike Capocci leading the way with 22 points, nine rebounds and an assist; Ralph Bucci finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Mario Flaherty had seven points, 11 rebounds and seven turnovers.
Saturday saw the Leicester Riders return to their winning ways, taking a 97-64 victory over the Wildcats. The Riders gpt 18 points and five assists from guard Cameron Rundles; Ayron Hardy contributed 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists; lastly, Brett Royster added 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. For the Wildcats, Mike Cappoci was joint top scorer with 15 points, also adding seven steals, three rebounds and a couple of assists. Paul Elderkin joined Mike as the top scorer with 15 but added four assists and one rebound; Mario Flaherty finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Game one of the BBL Cup Semi-Final saw the Plymouth Raiders take a rather convincing 111-83 victory at the Worcester Wolves behind 33 points, two rebounds, two assists from Jeremy Bell. Lehmon Colbert had a massive double-double finishing with 27 points, 13 rebounds and three assists; Michael Ojo had 15 points, seven rebounds and an assist while Paul Williams chipped in 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. For the Wolves, Tommy Freeman led with 29 points, four rebounds, and two assists but committed five fouls; Sherrad Prezzie Blue contributed 18 points, seven assists and two rebounds; Carlos Fernandez finished with 16 points and three rebounds; while Richie Gordon had eight points to go with 14 rebounds, two steals and a block.
Sunday had the MK Lions playing for the second time and taking a second win from the weekend, this time over the Jets in Cheshire, 86-75. The Lions were led by forward Bill Cole who finished with a very solid 29 points, eight rebounds, two assists and five blocks. Adam Brown contributed 25 points, four assists, two rebounds and four steals; Colin O’Reilly added 12 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. For the Lions, Demarius Bolds was again unstoppable in going off for 29 points, 12 rebounds, an assist and three steals; Howard Crawford finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and a single assist; while Daniel Northern had nine points, 13 rebounds and eight turnovers.
Game two of the BBL Cup Semi-Finals had the Raiders again meeting the Worcester Wolves; this time, the Wolves took the away victory, 89-82, but lost out due to the aggregate score. Lehmon Colbert had another amazing game for the Raiders, finishing with 22 points, nine rebounds but five turnovers. Michael Ojo led the scoring with 23 points; he also had two rebounds and one assists. Anthony Martin had 10 rebounds and eight assists. For the victorious Wolves, Richie Gordon was yet another nominee for ‘line of the night,’ finishing with a 34-point, 12-rebound double-double. Prezzie-Blue chipped in 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Carlos Fernandez had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The last game of the weekend saw the Guildford Heat lose again, staying winless while also losing the services of Mike Copeland to injury. The final score of that game saw the Glasgow Rocks take a 99-94 home victory behind 32 points, seven assists and three rebounds from the BBL’s November player of the month Mychal Green. Gareth Murray added 21 points to go with three rebounds and three assists, while centre Deaundre Cranston had a near double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds. For the Heat, Tayo Ogedengbe finished with 22 points, four rebounds and one assists; Martelle Mclemore added 21 points, three rebounds and one assist; while guard Drew Lasker finished with 17 points, four rebounds and five assists. This tight game came down to shooting percentages, with the Rocks hitting 50% (9-of-18) from long range while hitting 56% from the field, the Heat on the other hand shot 53% from the field in a closely contested visit north of the border.
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.