After a shock Saturday loss to Worcester, Newcastle Eagles rebounded on Sunday night in the BBL Championship to defeat Plymouth Raiders.
However the champions had to erase a double-digit deficit in the final quarter at the Pavilions without the scoring prowess of the injured Charles Smith to call upon.
Yet, they still managed to prevail with a remarkable turnaround to claim a 73-70 success and deny Raiders the chance of some sweet revenge after their recent BBL Cup semi-final exit at the hands of the Tyneside club.
Most gratifying for Fab Flournoy was that this was a victory achieved primarily because of the contribution of two recent arrivals in point guard Damon Huffman and BBL Player Of The Month Kareem Maddox. They continued the Eagles’ tradition in recent years of grinding out such pivotal results by combining for 43 points.
Glasgow Rocks suffered a fourth quarter collapse to slump to a 90-79 defeat at Cheshire Phoenix. Gareth Murray, the Scotland captain, fired 17 points against his former team but Sterling Davis’ men were out-scored 30-22 over the final ten minutes to slip to a second reverse in a row.
It was a welcome boost for the hosts, just weeks after they were saved from extinction by a fan-led consortium. However Glasgow stay marooned in seventh place in the British Basketball League, a massive 12 points adrift of leaders Leicester Riders.
The Rocks, playing without captain EJ Harrison, trailed 41-31 at half-time after Cheshire pulled away in the second period. However they hit back in the third quarter as a three-pointer from Brice Fantazia capped a 13-1 run which took his side 49-47 ahead.
It was to be their final lead. Cheshire – paced by a game-high 27 points from their player-coach Chez Marks – responded with a three-point blitz in the closing stages as the Scots’ challenge faded badly away.
Surrey Heat are still at the forefront of the title race after they shrugged off a dreadful start in the north-east against Durham Wildcats to eventually ease their way to a 91-74 victory. Creon Raftopoulos and his team were initially stunned by the home team who despite not having big man Andrew Keister, raced into an early 11 point lead.
But, Heat gradually came back into the game and took control during the second half via a combined 40 points from Chavis Holmes and Sam Cricelli. Wildcats also had two players step up with Mike Baldarelli and Ralph Bucci sharing an impressive 50 points.
Meanwhile Leicester will face holders Newcastle in next month’s BBL Cup final after thrashing Sheffield 75-45 in an utterly one-sided second leg of their semi-final. Already 90-70 in front from their first meeting, the Riders were utterly dominant as the Great Britain skipper Drew Sullivan led the rout with 15 points.
The three games on Friday night provided some thrilling finishes in the BBL Championship as both the London Lions and Manchester Giants secured come-from-behind victories, while the One Health Sharks Sheffield enjoyed a slightly more comfortable victory in their contest.
The Lions had trailed by as many as eight points in the third quarter, but they held their nerve to come back and defeat Plymouth Raiders 95-91.
Trailing 84-78 in the final quarter, a Tayo Ogedengbe three-pointer sparked the Lions into life down the stretch as Adrian Sturt and Mike Martin helped the Lions into a 90-86 lead and despite a 31-point effort from Michael Ojo, the Raiders could not get themselves back into the contest.
Manchester Giants came back from a 15-point deficit to defeat the Durham Wildcats 82-79 at Wright Robinson College.
Having trailed 34-19 in the second quarter, Giants picked up their intensity and began to claw their way back into the contest.
A 16-2 burst in the third quarter from the home side meant the Giants opened up a seven-point advantage at 54-47, but the visitors came back in the final quarter as a 9-2 Wildcats run gave them a 79-76 lead.
A three-point-play from David Aliu put the hosts ahead with 1:52 remaining, and despite efforts from Keith Page and Andrew Keister for the Wildcats to get the visitors back into the contest, Manchester held on.
Sheffield Sharks thrashed hapless Mersey Tigers 94-74 at the EIS. 21 points from Mike Tuck paced Sharks as they enjoyed their biggest lead of the game at 82-56 early in the final quarter.
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