Mersey Tigers have moved top the BBL after back-to-back wins, drubbing Essex Pirates 69-45 before thrashing Worcester Wolves.

Worcester head coach Paul James was left disappointed again after his team crashed to a third successive home court loss. His team were soundly beaten 80-63 by the Tigers and the play-caller admitted his players had found Andrew Sullivan and Tafari Toney simply far too hot to handle.

“We found it extremely difficult to cope with Toney and Sullivan who everyone knows are both class acts.” explained James.”Our players simply did not have the nous to deal with them the way we needed in this game and it cost us.”

When Mersey faced Essex 24 hours earlier, the Pirates the struggling visitors gave a debut to England international Taner Adu but the guard’s second spell at the club began in ignominous defeat.

Mersey, led by 14 points from Drew Sullivan, were only 4 ahead after the first period but turned up the heat to move 40-24 in front at half-time. With Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto sharing his minutes, the Pirates – paced by 11 from Australian import Dabiel Briglia – rallied in the third before the hosts upped the ante.

Tim Lewis is still looking for a first Essex win.

Elsewhere, Newcastle Eagles continue to shake off their poor start, holding off Sheffield Sharks in overtime to pull off a 116-106 win at the EIS.

The hosts gave an immediate debut to new signing Olu Babalola but fell as much as 14 behind entering the fourth quarter. However they rallied back to level at 100-100 and force an extra period.

But Eagles went on a decisive 8-1 run and, led by 33 points from Charles Smith, they held firm.

Marcus Stout led Sheffield with 30 while Babalola scored just 2 in 10 minutes on his first appearance.

Guildford Heat have one foot in the BBL Trophy Final after they swept aside visiting Leicester Riders with a blistering performance and an 85-65 success in the semi-final first leg clash at Surrey Sports Park.

The hosts were on top form from tip to buzzer and even managed to rack up a 31 point advantage at one point although the Riders did give themselves an outside shot by reducing the arrears in the closing minutes. Nevertheless, the Heat will remain favourites to progress after Tayo Ogedegebe and Martelle McLemore combined for an impressive 39 points.

There was further bad news for fans of the Riders after they were confirmed as being one of only two BBL clubs still without a league win to their name after Plymouth Raiders and Worthing Thunder both belatedly got off the mark.

The Raiders repeated their BBL Cup win against Milton Keynes Lions earlier in the month at the Pavilions with a 91-81 success that will come as a big relief to Head Coach Gavin Love. He had Anthony Rowe and Evaldas Zabas to thank most after the pair combined for 50 points in the game.

Worthing Thunder meanwhile got themselves out of jail after trailing by double digits against fellow basement dwellers Essex and quite literally had to work overtime to dig themselves out of a hole and secure a hard fought 95-92 victory.

Sheffield freeze Heat

Sheffield Sharks accelerated towards the top of the BBL in Wednesday’s 90-78 road win at Guildford Heat. Marcus Stout and Steve Dagostino led the way with 25 points each as the Sharks relied on a dominant fourth quarter to overcome their hosts.

Down 57-56 at the start of the final period, Sheffield regained the lead and stretched it to the winning margin of twelve courtesy of four three-pointers and a series of late free-throws. Dagostino made the first triple, before a number of lead changes ensued until Paul Williams made consecutive scores to see the Sharks up 64-60. Back-to-back triples from Stout and Ryan Patton helped the lead reach 75-66, before the visitors saw out the last two minutes as they went 13/16 from the free-throw line.

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