Paul James’ side captured a second head-to-head over an important rival after crushing the Lions in a 93-64 success at the University of Worcester. Will Creekmore was refreshed after his rest against Surrey last week and produced a dominant 20-15 double-double to lead the Wolves back to the top with a 12-3 record. The Lions’ hopes took an early dent when Vince Macaulay was ejected for a second technical and his side soon fell to a third straight away defeat.
Leicester Riders remain on course to defend their title after an impressive 91-82 win on the road in Plymouth. Jay Couisnard led all scorers with 21 points to once again prove to be a thorn in the side of the Raiders. Plymouth led early on but were undone in the third quarter as the champions powered on to record a sixth consecutive win in all competitions.
Birmingham almost created history on Saturday before falling short of their first win in the BBL after a David Aliu inspired fourth quarter helped Manchester overcome the Knights. The league newcomers were comfortably beaten 111-75 at Newcastle on Friday night but came back fighting against the Giants, boosted by the return of Brent Benson, although his game-high 22 points were in vain for the hosts.
The Knights led by nine after consecutive triples from Martyn Gayle made it 67-58 in the fourth only for Aliu to take charge and propel the visitors to an 89-79 success. Rob Marsden top scored for the Giants with 18 points on an efficient 9-11 shooting as Jeff Jones’ starting line-up consisted of all five members recently called up to the England squad.
There was a minor blip in Sheffield’s title charge on Friday night as they lost their lead following a 77-72 defeat against Glasgow. It was the Sharks’ first loss at the EIS this season as the Rocks triumphed in Sheffield for only the second time in 27 attempts in the league. Player-coach Sterling Davis led by example with 24 points while captain EJ Harrison added a further 21. A 15-4 burst in the third swung the momentum in favour of the visitors and they hung on for an impressive victory.
The final game of the weekend saw the in-form Cheshire Phoenix make it four straight wins in the league after defeating Durham 99-88 on the road. The big three of Reggie Middleton, Dominique Coleman and Victor Moses delivered once again for coach John Lavery, combining for 82 points to enhance the Nix’s current position inside the play-off spots. As for the Wildcats, they now found themselves two wins behind their nearest rivals after a poor run of four defeats in their last four.
X-mas Table: 1- WOLVES 12-3; 2- RIDERS 11-2; 3= EAGLES/SHARKS 11-3; 5- LIONS 9-5;
6- RAIDERS 8-7; 7- ROCKS 7-7; 8- PHOENIX 7-8; 9- WILDCATS 5-9; 10- GIANTS 5-10;
11- KNIGHTS 0-14; 12- UNITED 0-15
Top 5 Notables:
Weekend highs: Reggie Middleton- 30 pts; Dominique Coleman- 28pts; Victor Moses- 24pts
Stat: Manchester Giants won on the road for the first time this season.
Milestone: James Jones became the first player to pass 100 assists (105).
Double-double kings: Will Creekmore- 20-15; Victor Moses- 24-12; Charles Smith- 12pts/13ast
Near triple-double efforts: Brent Benson- 22/9/7; Ralph Bucci- 10/8/7
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