The Newcastle Eagles joined the Leicester Riders at the top of the BBL Championship table, after a weekend that saw more twists and turns in the battle for honours.
The Eagles overcame Manchester Giants on Friday evening while Riders had a come-from-behind win against UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders on Saturday evening — before suffering their first loss of the season with an 81-74 loss at Surrey Heat.
The reigning champions Eagles showed their class to ease past Manchester Giants in the north-east. The experienced trio of Charles Smith, Darius Defoe and Joe Chapman led the scoring for the home team as they cruised to a 96-76 victory, and player-coach Fab Flournoy was a happy man after the game:
“We played well against Manchester and our defensive energy in particular was first class. We also shot the ball well but it really starts for us at the defensive end. Kareem [Maddox] really gave us a big lift at the both ends of the floor and we got our usual solid contributions from Joe and Charles. In fact our least effective player on the night was probably me and it is pleasing for us to win a game by 20 points when that happens.
“Manchester again got good scoring from Stefan Gill and Dave Aliu was once again Mr Reliable. I was also impressed with the energy that Ben Eaves brought to the game.
“We have a spare week next week so we will use it to rest up a little albeit we will still be in the gym ensuring that we do not lose that competitive edge. After that it’s four consecutive double header weekends before Christmas and some long trips (Plymouth, Worcester, Plymouth, Surrey and London) so we have to make sure we are ready to attack those games.”
Riders pulled out an unlikely 83-80 home victory against Raiders after being second best for much of the contest before the class of Great Britain international Drew Sullivan and some excellent play by veteran Yorick Williams saw them overcome a ten point half-time deficit to take their eighth Championship win of the season.
Sunday saw Riders’ unbeaten start to the campaign come to an end as Frank Holmes poured in 22 points to lead the Heat to victory as the home team outscored Creon Raftopoulos’s side 24-13 in the final period.
Raiders bounced back from Saturday’s loss in Leicester as they turned on the style for the Sky TV cameras with a 113-68 demolition of Durham Wildcats. Jeremy Bell led the West Country side with 27 points as they took a grip on the game with a 36-13 second period and never looked back.
London Lions completed their second win of the season against the Wildcats on Friday night as 27 points from Tayo Ogedengbe helped them to a 101-74 victory.
The bottom-of-the-table showdown at Knowsley saw One Health Sharks Sheffield come out 94-67 winners against Mersey Tigers as they recovered from a 42-24 deficit to outscore their hosts 70-25 in the rest of the game. Micah Williams led the scoring for the Sharks with 30 points, while Gage Daye added 28 for Atiba Lyons’ team.
Saturday evening had also seen Worcester Wolves collect their sixth win of the campaign as a 30-18 fourth period enabled them to see off the challenge of Cheshire with a 97-84 success.
Finally, Glasgow Rocks moved themselves into sixth position in the BBL Championship table thanks to a come-from-behind 87-73 home victory over London Lions on Sunday lunchtime. Sterling Davis’ team trailed at all three quarter breaks before stepping up with a 27-12 final stanza.
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