RIDERS JOIN WOLVES, EAGLES IN CUP SEMIS

Leicester Riders enjoyed a comfortable passage into the BBL Cup semi-finals thanks to a 95-74 victory over the Cheshire Jets at the Northgate Arena and they will now play Newcastle.

A tight start saw the teams tied at 24-24 at the end of the first quarter, but the Riders started to take control of the game in the second period as a 17-4 tear to end the first half, including eight points from Cameron Rundles, saw the visitors leading 52-38 at the half.

The Jets tried valiantly to get themselves back into the contest, but the Riders kept their hosts at bay and enjoyed their biggest lead of the game at 93-69 with 1:15 remaining in the contest as they held on for the impressive victory.

Rundles had a game-high 24 points.

Worcester Wolves booked a BBL Cup semi-final against Plymouth by overpowering Mersey Tigers 91-62 in Liverpool on Friday evening.

Taking part in their first game after a couple of weeks break, there was obvious early ring rust in the play of the Wolves. Several turnovers and hesitancy in shooting allowed Mersey to take an early 7-1 lead, and to hold a 19-14 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto was forced to call a time out at three minutes into the second period following five consecutive points from Wolves captain Callum Jones that had taken the visitors in front at 23-19. A tight first half ended with Worcester holding a slender 34-31 advantage.

As the second half began Wolves veteran forward Arnas Kazlauskas found himself open at the top of the key and duly floated home a long range score. After only four minutes into the half American forward  Tommy Freeman had already scored 10 points, including a double of three-pointers. By this point Wolves were ahead at 51-33 and there was no way back for the Tigers.

Going into the last period with a comfortable 66-47 cushion, Worcester were able to entertain their travelling fans with several flashy moves. Sherrad Prezzie-Blue frequently danced through a wilting Mersey defence, and Richie Gordon was able to muscle his opponents aside when close to the basket. With one eye on Saturday’s important league encounter against Durham Wildcats, Wolves’ coach Paul James had the luxury of giving more time to his bench players as the game eased down to the satisfying 91-62 victory.

James reflected on the win: “It was a scrappy first half with lots of turnovers, but in the end it was a great win. This is the first time that the Wolves have got to the Cup semi-finals and I’m delighted for the players.”

Gordon led all scorers with 27 points as well as pulling down an impressive 15 rebounds. Prezzie-Blue and Freeman both scored 23 points. Liverpool native David Aliu led the Tigers scorers with 18 points.

Smith makes Rocks crumble

Glasgow Rocks crashed out of the BBL Cup as Newcastle Eagles produced a late burst to seal a 78-75 win that fired them into the semi-finals. And it was ex-Rocks forward Charles Smith who turned the screw, hitting two critical baskets in a thrilling finish as the Tyneside outfit rallied from 13 down to stun their rivals.

With Mychal Green hitting a game-high 28 points in the first half, Glasgow stormed into a 53-40 lead before Newcastle hit back with a 15-0 run. And although Rocks player-coach Sterling Davis put his team in front with a minute left, the Eagles hit the last 5 points to snatch victory and set up a last four tie against either Cheshire or Leicester.

BBL: Rocks rebound

Glasgow Rocks leapt into second place in the British Basketball League with a comprehensive 82-64 destruction of slumping Sheffield Sharks. And it was Mike Green who stepped up to grab a game-high 23 points as the Kelvin Hall outfit banished the nightmares of their BBL Cup exit of 48 hours earlier.

Already short-handed by the absence of captain EJ Harrison, Glasgow’s cause sustained another blow when DeAundre Cranston hobbled off in the first quarter. However Latvian rookie Martins Malnieks, a fringe performer just a month ago, stepped into the breech as the Rocks coasted to a victory that leaves them just two points adrift of Newcastle.

“It was a good win,” Rocks coach Sterling Davis said. “The odds were against us when we lost DeAundre to injury early in the game. But I’m really proud of how we responded.”

Green put the hosts in front for good in the eighth minute and was instrumental as Glasgow accelerated into a 44-35 half-time lead. Although Sheffield cut the gap to seven, the Rocks reserves ignited another decisive surge in the fourth period, Danny Huffor adding 18 points, and Malnieks 10, as Sheffield’s title credentials once again were called into question.

 

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