Glasgow Rocks surged into second place in the British Basketball League after a late burst secured an 80-67 win over title rivals Cheshire Jets on Sunday.

And an eleventh victory in 12 league games has now put Sterling Davis’ men right into the title mix as they moved just two points behind long-time leaders, Mersey Tigers.

American guard EJ Harrison hit 18 points for the Kelvin Hall outfit who went ahead for good in the second quarter and opened up a 43-32 lead at half-time. The Rocks ceded control in the fourth period and saw their lead cut to just 67-65 by Cheshire with four minutes left. However Nick Livas sparked a decisive 13-2 run that saw the visitors maintain their push toward the top.

“There’s a long way to go,” cautioned Harrison. “But this was a good win. They made a run at us and we held on.”

Milton Keynes Lions dealt a serious blow to Guildford Heat’s fading title challenge and in the process helped their own play-off hopes with an 87-83 road win.

Lions just about kept their cool to sink seven free throws in the closing minutes, which held off a strong fightback by Guildford.

An 11-1 start to the third quarter by Lions cut a Heat lead to 46-44 and a 7-0 burst later in the stanza gave them a 58-54 advantage.

After Guildford had reduced the margin to one a Kris Clark three made it 61-57heading into the final quarter.

Lions looked safe when Gill scored five points to make it 79-67. However, a Michael Martin three-point play started an 8-0 Heat burst which got them back to 79-75.

From then on it was all about Lions’ proficiency from the charity stripe and led by 18 from Shawn Myers, they passed their test to hold off the Heat and secure a valuable win.
 Martelle McLemore score a game-high 23 for the ailing hosts.

Saturday: Pirates so close

So near but so far. Essex Pirates came so close to their first win of the BBL season on Saturday, narrowly losing 92-88 to Plymouth Raiders.

Having routed Guildford Heat on Friday night, Raiders could have been forgiven for expecting their confidence to allow them a comfortable night at Southend but it was far from that.

Essex played some of their best basketball of the season during the third quarter and they left the visitors shocked when they went 74-67 in front heading into the fourth quarter.

When Taner Adu drained a triple to make the gap 13 points at 80-67, it looked like Raiders were going to be on the wrong end of a disappointing loss but to their credit, they got themselves out of jail with some improved defence and showing more experience and composure down the stretch.

They held their hosts to just one score in over 5 minutes and the 13point lead evaporated in double quick time as led by Evaldas Zabas, they took the lead again at 83-82 with just under three minutes left.

It was a lead they would never relinquish as Pirates tried in vain to scramble the win in the dying stages. They still only trailed by a point with 17 seconds left but it wasn’t to be as Chez Marks and Anthony Rowe sealed the win for Raiders from the free-throw line.

Rowe finished with 17 rebounds while Pirates’ Australian import Dan grabbed a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Rob Paternostro was upset after his team lost at home to Worcester a fortnight ago and he was left scratching his head and upset again when his team repeated their mistake by giving the Wolves another big head start.

Only this time they managed to get over the hump and complete an impressive comeback to get themselves a 104-92 success and back into the final play-off spot.

Elsewhere, BBL Cup Winners Sheffield returned after almost two weeks off and claimed a 20 point win at Worthing Thunder although player-coach Atiba Lyons admitted they had to work a lot harder than the final 89-69 score-line might suggest.

Worthing’s resistance was finally shattered in the last quarter when Sharks moved up through the gears and raced away with an offensive blitz which say them pour in 25 points in just over six minutes.

Friday: Raiders pummel sorry Heat

Plymouth Raiders kept up their push for a play-off position thanks to a crushing 108-68 victory over the Guildford Heat on Friday evening

The result moves the Raiders level on points with sixth placed Sheffield while the Heat remain six points behind the battle for fourth place.

After a tight start to the game for both sides, the home side took control of the game as an Evaldas Zabas three-pointer sparked an impressive 19-4 burst to close out the first quarter with the Raiders leading 26-10.

In the second quarter the Heat tried valiantly to get themselves back into the game as both sides traded baskets for the remainder of the half, but it was not enough to close the deficit as the Raiders headed into the locker rooms leading 55-33 at the half.

In the second half Martelle McLemore helped the Heat trim the deficit slightly as the visitors closed the gap to 18 points at 57-39, but it was not enough as the Raiders regained control of the game and some impressive shooting to close out the third period leading 76-42 heading into the final stanza.

In the final period, the Heat tried valiantly to get themselves back into the game but it was not enough as the Raiders held on for the impressive victory to give Coach Gavin Love’s team back to winning ways following defeats to Glasgow Rocks and Sheffield in their previous two games.

Zabas led the scoring for the Raiders with 26 points and he was ably assisted by Chez Marks and Lehmon Colbert with 25 and 21 points respectively, but it was McLemore who led all scorers in the game with 29 points for the defeated Heat.

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