MINNOWS OUT AS TROPHY TIPS OFF

BBL LOGO 568Newcastle Eagles, Leicester Riders, Cheshire Phoenix and Worcester Wolves all progressed to the quarter-finals of the BBL Trophy with double digit wins over the final weekend of 2012.

Eagles were at their imperious best as they swept to a 102-73 victory at neighbours Durham Wildcats, and coach Fab Flournoy was a happy man after the win. “We played well at Durham,” he said. “They always give us an extremely tough game in Newton Aycliffe and this was no different. We got excellent play from our big men and Kareem and Darius were actually 19/23 combined from the field. Joe Ikhimnwin also gave us a nice boost off the bench. But just as important was our defensive intensity on the perimeter.

“When it let up a little bit at the beginning of the third quarter they started making shots from all over the court, proving what dangerous opposition they are. Mike Baldarelli shot the ball really well for Durham and Andrew Keister was a handful on the offensive glass.”

A strong second half saw Riders set up a last eight trip to wither Surrey Heat or Reading Rockets as they swept to a 105-63 victory at Division One champions Essex Leopards. A 10-0 run before half-time saw the home-town Leopards make it a nine point game at half-time but a 26-12 third period put Riders back in charge and they pulled away in the final stanza. Pavol Lovensky led all scorers with 18 points for the Riders, while Simon Cummings led the Leopards with 17 points.

Wolves set up a visit to Eagles in the quarter-finals as they defeated a short-handed UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders side 90-77. Paul James’ side overpowered their opponents during the fourth quarter with a super 22 points and 11 rebounds from Lithuanian centre Arturas Masiulis central to their success as Wolves broke open a tied game with a 34-21 final stanza.

In the capital, Cheshire Phoenix claimed a thrilling 92-88 BBL Trophy win to condemn injury-hit London Lions to a fourth successive loss in all competitions. In an exciting and offensively orientated contest, the visitors managed to do the business in crunch time with veteran forward – and former Lion – Shawn Myers claiming a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds to set up a quarter-final against Mersey Tigers or Worthing Thunder.

There were also three BBL Championship game as a great year of sport in Britain came to a close, with Manchester Giants, Glasgow Rocks and One Health Sharks Sheffield all collecting wins.

A second-half collapse left Tigers still winless for the season after some 16 games having looked well set for a first success of the campaign during the north-west derby game with Giants, on Friday.

The hosts led by double-digits in the first-half, but a horrific third quarter in which they were outscored 37-13 led to them eventually crashing 96-65. Stefan Gill led the way for Giants with four treys in a 24 point haul whilst Joshua Lockett had 15 points and eight rebounds for the losing team.

Glasgow Rocks will end 2012 in fifth place in the British Basketball League after a comfortable 95-78 victory over Cheshire Phoenix at the Emirates Arena. Sterling Davis’ men remain a massive ten points behind leaders Newcastle and with their championship hopes slender at best.
However with two other domestic prizes still up for grabs in the New Year, the performance provided a timely lift as Donald Robinson hit a team-best 23 points and his colleagues followed his lead.

“It was almost scary how well we were playing in the first half,” said Davis. “I thought it was going too well but we were taking good shots and making them which is all you can ask for. And everyone contributed which is a big plus.

“And now we’ve got the first round of the Trophy next weekend and I want us to be ready to make a run at that, especially as the final’s at the Emirates Arena.”

Although the league’s leading scorer Chez Marks hit 12 of his game-high 25 points in the opening period, a three-pointer from EJ Harrison sparked a 9-0 run which put Glasgow ahead for good and they proved indomitable.

A further eleven unanswered points in the second quarter was instrumental in ending Cheshire’s challenge as the Northgate outfit were out-scored 25-8 in a torrid seven minute spell.
With his team ahead 52-32 at half-time, Davis – who added 16 points – saw his side on cruise control and although the visitors cut the deficit to 12 following a 6-0 burst, Glasgow never looked like relenting. And the Rocks bench were afforded a late cameo as the short-handed Phoenix were duly despatched.

Davis will demand more from Robinson who still remains a work in progress. “I’m going to talk to him about being consistent every game,” the Rocks player-coach revealed.
Elsewhere in the BBL, Sheffield Sharks coasted to an 87-68 win over fellow strugglers Manchester Giants.

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