WOLVES DEVOUR EAGLES IN OT

Worcester Wolves justified their pre-season tag of dark horses after they tipped off their league campaign with a thrilling 99-96 overtime win against defending BBL Champions Newcastle Eagles.
In a pulsating and intense battle, the Wolves finally emerged victorious despite having blown a double-digit lead which almost allowed the Eagles to sneak a win in regulation.

However, having forced overtime with a last gasp score by Rod Middleton, the Wolves showed plenty of character to claim a victory which left Paul James understandably thrilled.

“It was absolutely fantastic. The team showed character when could have crumbled under pressure. We managed to get to overtime and then go on and get the win.”

He added, “This was an absolutely fantastic victory for us and the guys will now believe they belong in the top league.”

In the BBL Trophy, Guildford Heat Coach Creon Raftopoulos was also left delighted with the performance of his team after a magnificent defensive effort. The Heat held UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders to just seven final quarter points as they cantered to a 76-56 win at Surrey Sports Park.

The success takes them to the top of BBL Trophy Group 1 on two wins alongside the Raiders who have endured a thoroughly miserable weekend having also been blown out in the league at Sheffield on Friday night.

Heat avenged their loss at Plymouth with Coach Raftopoulos in no doubts as to what made the difference this time. “It all boils down to defensive intensity,” explained the play-caller.

“We have worked really hard on defence all this week – we have been focusing on helping each other to defend the pick and roll.”

“Defence definitely won the game for us this weekend and holding them to just 7 points in the last period was a terrific performance.”

In the other BBL Trophy game played on Saturday night, the Milton Keynes Lions claimed their first win of the new campaign and also a first ever career coaching win for Mike New after cruising to a comfortable 102-69 win at Essex Pirates.

“This is the first time we have had our full group of players all fit -even including training and I think it showed,” said New. “I am obviously pleased with how we performed while we also have to give credit to Essex who played hard.”

Glasgow Rocks are up and running in the BBL Championship with a 99-79 win over Leicester Riders north of the border.

After a disappointing BBL Trophy campaign, Sterling Davis’s team started the league season in the best possible fashion as they dominated their visitors almost from the opening tip.By half time the Rocks held a comfortable 54-33 advantage.

Leicester worked hard to get back into the match. But despite a 6-0 opening to the second half they couldn’t get any closer. A 10-2 burst to end the third quarter gave Rocks a 76-53 lead.

Cheshire Jets picked up their first win of the league season with an emphatic 91-59 victory over Essex Pirates in Chester.The Jets stormed out to a 30-11 first quarter lead and never let up from there. By half time the advantage was 52-28. Cheshire’s Matt Schneck led all scorers with 28 points and he was ably supported by Jeremy Bell with 25.

In the BBL Trophy Guildford Heat confirmed their place in the semi-finals with a comfortable 86-67 win at Worthing Thunder. The Heat used a strong third quarter to break free from a Worthing side which had taken a half time lead at 43-39.

Three threes in a row from Schneider (2) and Martelle Mclemore formed the backbone of a 20-2 burst that put Guildford firmly in control. Mike Martin added another trey as the visitors led 70-53 with ten minutes remaining.

There was both BBL Trophy and BBL Championship action on Friday night as the Mersey Tigers and Newcastle Eagles teed up a semi-final against each other in the Trophy after victories over Cheshire Jets and Glasgow Rocks.

The Tigers  – who are set to re-sign guard Jerome Gumbs next week – enjoyed a 90-78 victory over the Jets at the Echo Arena on Friday night with James Jones and Andrew Thomson top-scoring for the home side with 21 point apiece.  In a tight game for the most part, the Jets began the final quarter with a flourish to trim the deficit to five points at 67-62, but a David Aliu three-pointer sparked an 11-1 run for the home side to take the score out to 78-63.  The Jets valiantly tried to get themselves back into the game, but were unable to close the gap sufficiently as the Tigers held on for the all-important victory.

The Eagles were made to work hard by the Northern rivals, but they eventually overcame the Rocks 83-75 at Sport Central on Friday evening.  An impressive 31-point haul from Darius Defoe helped the Eagles into the semi-finals of the competition as they fought back to overturn a first quarter 20-21 deficit and steadily extended their lead throughout the game.  A 7-1 burst in the final period gave them their biggest lead of the game at 77-62 and despite a 10-1 burst from the visitors to leave them trailing by six points at 81-75 with 26 seconds remaining, the Eagles held on for the victory and maintained their 100% record in the group stages of the competition.

In BBL Championship action on Friday night, the Sharks enjoyed a little more comfort in their victory as they defeated the UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders 116-73 at the EIS, Sheffield.  An impressive Ryan Patton performance earned him the mantle of leading scorer in the game with 33 points and he was ably assisted by Steve Dagostino who netted 31 points personal for the Sharks.  The home side led from tip-to-buzzer and a 23-9 run in the third quarter broke the game open to take the score out to 82-54 heading into the final stanza.

Read a full BBL preview in Issue 1 of MVP Magazine, out Monday

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