It’s time for another look back at the weekend’s action in the British Basketball League and our guy to do so at BallinEurope is Sam Chadwick … so take it away, Sam!
This past weekend, March 9-11, saw a total of nine BBL Championship games take place starting with two title favourites, the Newcastle Eagles and the Leicester Riders going head to head at Sports Central. Strangely both of Friday night’s games finished with the exact same score!
In the Sharks’ game against the Mersey Tigers, Mike Tuck came up big, contributing a massive line-of-the-night double-double in their 99-82 win of 33 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, one block and a steal. Jimmy Langhurst also had a big game finishing with 32 points, four rebounds and two assists as Ryan Patton chipped in eight points and dished out eight assists while thieving a pair of steals. For the Tigers, Sam Cricelli had a solid 29-point, 11-rebound outing on 14-of-21 shooting, including 1-of-1 from three; he also grabbed two steals and a block. Myles Hesson finished with 16 points, five rebounds and a steal while Antonio Bustamante had another solid game, contributing 23 points, five assists and two steals. This week, the Sharks shot an impressive 66.7% (10-of-15) from behind the arc while the Tigers shot just 25%.
The Newcastle Eagles bounced back from their loss to the Plymouth Raiders last weekend by getting an important victory over the Leicester Riders on Friday night. The hosts came away with a 99-82 victory behind 28 points, four rebounds and two assists from Paul Gause; 21 points, five rebounds and three assists from Joe Chapman; and a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double from Andrew Thompson, who also added six assists and a block. For the Riders, Ayron Hardy had another near triple-double going for 12 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists along with one steal, while Bradd Wierzbicki top-scored to the tune of 25 points. Cameron Rundles was again all over the court to contribute 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Riders struggled from deep, shooting just 20% (4-of-20) from long range.
Saturday saw the Durham Wildcats put up a valiant effort but eventually going down at home, 97-82, against the league-leading Newcastle Eagles. For the Wildcats, Mario Flaherty had a dominant game of 24 points, 11 rebounds, one assist and a steal, while Mike Capocci had a near triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal. The Eagles were again led by Joe Chapman, who finished with 24 points and six assists; Paul Gause chipped in 22 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block; lastly, Charles Smith contributed 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block.
After losing to the Eagles on Friday, the Riders went out for a dominant performance over the Guildford Heat, going for a 106-80 victory while shooting an improved 55% on threes and 57% from the field. The Riders had some solid contributions from Cameron Rundles, Ayron Hardy, Andrew Sullivan, Bradd Wierzbicki and Barry Lamble. Rundles flirted with a triple-double in this game at 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Hardy contributed 18 points on 100% FG shooting, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Wierzbicki was again the top scorer for the Riders finishing with 24 points, nine assists and four rebounds. For the Heat, five players finished in double digits but Guildford just could not keep up with the Riders’ scoring pace. Martelle McLemore led the way for the Heat with 19 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals; Tayo Ogedengbe finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists; while Drew Lasker finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, one assist and three steals.
The Raiders grabbed another important win in their search for a positive playoff seed by grabbing a 94-82 victory over the Sheffield Sharks. Last year’s BBL MVP contributed 24 points, six rebounds and two assists; Paul Williams had another dominant double-double following his impressive last week to finish with 15 points and 15 rebounds to go along with a pair of assists, two steals and a block; Lehmon Colbert finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The Sharks seem to be missing the rebounding prowess of Justin Dobbins, as they were out-boarded, 48-29; Sheffield also seems quite short on players with just seven players suiting up for this match. Mike Tuck finished with 19 points and eight rebounds; Ryan Patton contributed 23 points, one rebound and two assists; and Jimmy Langhurst finished with 20 points, one rebound and one assist.
The Wolves strengthened their hold on second place with a 64-61 victory over the fifth-place Glasgow Rocks. Richie Gordon finished with an impressive stat sheet for the Wolves, going for 24 points, 14 rebounds and two assists. Tommy Freeman went 3-of-13 from three-point land on route to 14 points, seven assists and three rebounds. David “Tin-Tin” Watts contributed just six points and eight rebounds, but three of those points came on a go-ahead long ball that clinched the Worcester victory. For the injury-ridden Rocks, it was Sterling Davis keeping them close with 17 points, two rebounds and two assists. Danny Huffor finished with 10 points, six rebounds and a block, while Deaundre Cranson finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Guildford Heat grabbed another vital victory for playoff position by defeating the Glasgow Rocks, 83-81. Mike Martin finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists; Drew Lasker had 10 points, six assists and five rebounds; and Tayo Ogedengbe contributed 13 points, four assists and a pair of rebounds. The Heat continued to shoot miserably from deep, however, shooting just 23.5% (4-of-17). For the Rocks, who were again missing E.J. Harrison and Mychal Green, Gareth Murray led the way with 20 points and four rebounds, while Sterling Davis contributed 18 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists. Danny Huffor added 18 points, three rebounds, two assists and a block.
The Jets had double-doubles from Matthew Schneck and Bill Cole but couldn’t grind out a win against the Plymouth Raiders, eventually taking the 88-79 home loss following a fourth quarter in which they were outscored 27-9. Schneck’s numbers consisted of 15 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and a steal, while Cole had 14 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, two steals and three blocks. Another impressive stat line for the Jets came from Colin O’Reilly, as he top-scored with 24 points plus seven rebounds and two assists. For the Raiders, six players reached double digits led by Anthony Rowe’s near double-double of 19 points and nine rebounds; Jeremy Bell’s 21 points, two rebounds and two assists; and Paul Williams’ 12 points, 15 rebounds and two assists. These teams continued the league-wide three-point woes by connecting on just nine of 35 attempts!
The final game of the weekend saw the Milton Keynes Lions grab yet another important victory in their hunt for playoff position with a close 81-78 win over the Mersey Tigers. For the Lions, Demarius Bolds finished with 24 points, Adrian Strut added his impressive 19 points and Justin Dobbins was good for 15 points. For the Tigers, Myles Hesson continued his solid play to go for 13 points, but it was Antonio Bustamante leading the way with 18 points, while Sam Cricelli contributed 15.
That wraps up the weekend’s BBL games here in the UK; check back soon for more British 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.