ROCKS RALLY TO COMPLETE CUP LINE-UP

Glasgow Rocks, Surrey Heat and Sheffield completed the line-up for the BBL Cup quarter-finals with contrasting victories over the weekend.

The Rocks were forced to dig deep last night to edge out Manchester Giants 88-85 and secure a trip to Sheffield. However, Sterling Davis’ men had to battle from 11 down in the third quarter, pulling off a late decisive run to pick up with their first-ever victory at the Emirates Arena.

It wasn’t pretty. Manchester, making their first appearance in the competition for over a decade, threatened an upset as their young all-British line-up stood tall. However Rocks captain EJ Harrison, who had a game-27 points, sparked a fourth quarter fightback that saw the hosts through.

“We’re still struggling, and we’re up and down but that’s because we’re still a work in progress,” said Glasgow forward Kieron Achara, who had 18 points and nine rebounds. “We’re still learning how to play together. The plus is we’re one step closer to a trophy and we’re still in there fighting. But it’s good that we’ve now got a win in our new building. That will settle us down, hopefully.”

After seven early lead changes, a 7-0 run threatened to put Glasgow in control midway through the second period but Manchester, on their first appearance in the competition for a decade, punished the hosts’ lapses. England internationals David Watts and David Aliu sparked a 17-2 burst that propelled the Giants 40-33 ahead at half-time.

The visitors cushion grew to 46-35 in the third but although Glasgow rallied to level five times, Manchester held firm until EJ Harrison hit a three-pointer to put the Rocks 80-77 in front with two minutes left.

In a frenetic finish, Aliu converted back-to-back threes in quick succession to keep the pressure on the hosts but his last second long-range attempt to force overtime bounced out.

“We know they can shoot threes but I can’t believe David missed that with the way he was shooting,” Achara admitted. “He kept them in it at the finish.” Aliu led Manchester with 20 points.

Sheffield continued their good record in the Cup as Gage Daye poured in 19 points as they comfortably saw off Cheshire Jets 90-59. Mike Tuck added 16 points as the Sharks did most of the damage in the first half on their way to their first win of the season.

The Jets were without player-coach James Hamilton who has been suspended by the club following an incident between two adults at a junior basketball game, according to a statement.

Heat were even more ruthless in their win at struggling Mersey Tigers, never looking back after taking a 28-9 first period lead on the way to a 103-51 rout in the north west of England. Chavis Holmes led the Heat with 19 points, supported by 16 each from Sam Cricelli and Julius Joseph.

Eagles keep top spot in league

There was also plenty of BBL Championship action over the weekend, with Heat completing a good weekend as a blistering final quarter performance propelling them to a 79-63 success against the Sharks.

Top scorer Martelle McLemore was the headline performer for the hosts, although he was supported well by Chavis and Frank Holmes.

Champions Newcastle Eagles continued their seemingly relentless pursuit of a fifth league title in six years with a 99-75 home win against neighbours Durham Wildcats. Joe Chapman led their scoring as eight three-pointers helped him to 30 points, including a staggering 25 in the first half as the Eagles took control. Charles Smith added 22 points and Damon Huffman scored 18.

Eagles’ player-coach Fab Flournoy was understandably pleased with the result: “We really clamped down defensively in the second quarter and we got some good looks in transition which led to easy scores and then Joe in particular got going. That really helped us break the game open.”

Leicester Riders were made to work hard by London Lions before running out 89-83 winners. The visitors had the better of the first half, leading 45-37 going into the locker room 45-37 ahead at half-time, but a strong third period saw Riders outscore them 32-15, and they never looked back.

Worcester Wolves picked up a comfortable victory as they routed Mersey 98-48 at home. Alex Owumi continued his good debut season in the BBL with 19 points in less than 18 minutes as his side never looked back after a 22-0 run put them 25-4 ahead.

In the final game of the weekend, it proved one to forget for Jets who were routed 98-59 in brutal fashion by the Wolves who picked up back to back wins to move up the table. Paul James’ team could barely miss at some points during the game, with Daniel Belgrave on fire and lighting it up with a stunning five triples from just six attempts.

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