Drew Sullivan and Tafari Toney combined for 48 points as Mersey Tigers opened up the BBL Cup with a 94-87 win over Guildford Heat at Echo Arena to join Worcester, Plymouth and Leicester in the quarter-finals.

Tigers duo Sullivan had 23 and Toney 25 as the two Great Britain internationals led the 2009 Cup holders to book a quarter-final tie against Glasgow.

A stellar double-double of 23 points and 10 assists on debut by Plymouth Raiders playmaker Evaldas Zabas was the talk of the Pavilions after he led his new club to a morale boosting BBL Cup success after they sneaked past Milton Keynes Lions 106-101 in an exciting shootout.

It has been a miserable couple of weeks for Raiders who have slumped to some shocking losses but this was exactly the kind of response everyone was looking for and it gives coach Gavin Love and his players the impetus to get back on track after their early season wobble.

While Zabas also showed he has ice running through his veins with a perfect ten of ten from the line, much of the win was also due to the perimeter shooting of Cody Toppert who sunk five triples in his 22 point haul.

Joining Raiders in the next round of the Cup will be Leicester Riders who claimed their third win of the season over Essex Pirates as they cruised to an 85-58 victory on the road.

The result was also a reason for Rob Paternostro to celebrate as he chalked up his 50th win as head coach of the club although he was more concerned with the fact his team is getting better each week.

“The good thing about our squad is that we are improving each week,” explained the play-caller. “It’s good that we are still alive in the Cup and Trophy competitions.”

Elsewhere, Paul James and his Worcester Wolves side can now look forward to visiting Sports Central for the first time in their history and facing Newcastle Eagles after they booked their place in the quarter-finals of the BBL Cup. They secured a comfortable 88-78 success on the South Coast against Worthing Thunder with Justin Dobbins leading the way with 19 points.

 In the BBL Championship, Glasgow Rocks fell victim to Newcastle Eagles desperate quest for a first league victory of the season as the reigning champions won 86-74 on Tyneside to finally break their duck.

The hosts looked set for a comfortable triumph when they held Sterling Davis’ men to just 8 points in the opening quarter. However Nick Livas sparked a rapid recovery from the Rocks who rallied from 14 down to level at 38-38 at half-time.

However Newcastle, led by 23 from Charles Smith, found a second wind after the re-start. And made their decisive move with 5 minutes left to condemn Glasgow to a third successive defeat at the hands of their rivals this term.

And there was worse to follow for the Rocks on Sunday as they slumped to a third loss in the BBL Championship and a second loss at Kelvin Hall in a week after a powerful third quarter by Mersey Tigers made the difference in an impressive success for the Liverpool club.

Led by 20 from Toney, and some efficient perimeter shooting by James Jones, they headed south celebrating a 87-76 victory after surging clear following a half-time deadlock.

The loss was tough for Rocks player-coach Sterling Davis to stomach. “It was a game of two halves for us tonight,” he said. “The intensity was good in the first but for one reason or another, we backed off in the second half and consequently it was a tough night for us.”

Neewcastle could not make it a double in a classic at the Northgate Arena. 

In high drama at Northgate Arena, ex-Cheshire Jets star Trey Moore experienced the ultimate bitter-sweet return to his former club after he amassed an impressive 29 points but missed a crucial free-throw in the dying seconds and then a last ditch opportunity to win a thrilling game for the Eagles.

 As the Jets celebrated a super 76-75 win to remain undefeated in the BBL Championship and move to the top of the table, the reigning BBL title holders slumped to a third loss in four BBL Championship games and rather worryingly for Fab Flournoy, his team are still winless on the road in the league having previously lost at Mersey Tigers and Worcester Wolves.

 There were plenty of nails being chewed in Worcester where the Wolves came so close to overhauling a double digit deficit against Sheffield but just came up short, losing 83-82.

Some sparkling perimeter shooting and a Mike Tuck free-throw sealed the deal for the visitors who showed their resilience having almost allowed the momentum to swing the way of the Wolves at the wrong time. Marcus Stout and Ryan Patton were both superb and their combined 45 point contribution were critical in what could be a big result for the Sharks.

In the other BBL Championship game, Guildford Heat had a similarly nervous time and had to work equally as hard to get their win as they scraped past struggling Worthing Thunder 64-61.

Arguably the most attractive fixture of the weekend in the BBL Championship however is the Sunday match-up between Glasgow Rocks and Mersey Tigers. Both clubs contested the last game of the season in the BBL Play-offs of course and lock horns once more with plenty to play for. Tigers crashed to their first defeat of the season against the Lions while Rocks will be hoping to make up for their home court loss against Heat.

Finally, there was little more than pride on the line at Stoke Mandeville as the Marshall MK Lions and Essex Pirates locked horns to bring the opening phase of the BBL Trophy to a close. Despite a poor start when they found themselves 20-9 behind, the Lions came back to secure a convincing 86-73 success thanks mainly to 27 points from Jelani Gardner.

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