Glasgow Rocks have joined the logjam at the top of the British Basketball League clash after snaring Worcester Wolves 91-78 on Sunday.

Led by 25 from Mike Copeland, the Kelvin Hall outfit’s sixth successive victory draws them level on points with Newcastle and Mersey.

Copeland hit 13 in the opening quarter as Glasgow quickly surged in front and although Worcester hit a 9-0 run to cut the gap to 37-35 in the second period, their season-long inconsistency once again cost them dear.

The hosts pulled 55-41 in front by half-time and quickly extended the gap to 17. And with Australian centre Mike Kingma adding 17, Worcester could not come closer than 82-74 in the final quarter.

Winning is a good habit to get into,” Rocks coach Sterling Davis said. “You see that confidence every day in practice now and the guys believe in themselves.”

The visitors included new signing Sam Cricelli after the England international joined on Saturday following his release, last week, by Plymouth.

“I know what he can do from working with him with England,” said Wolves coach Paul James. “I think he can do a job for us.”

“Winning is a good habit to get into,” Davis said. “You see that confidence every day in practice now and the guys believe in themselves.”

Plymouth Raiders thrashed Leicester Riders 84-63 in Devon. and after beating Sheffield on Saturday night the Riders were no match for a fired up home side who led by 22 from  Chez Marks.

The Raiders lead peaked at 27 three times during the fourth quarter as Plymouth put Saturday’s defeat at Guildford Heat behind them.

Raiders began the match in fine form as Otis Polk made it 17-7. And although Leicester rallied to close to 32-26 late in the second, an 8-2 Raiders helped make it 40-31 to the hosts at half-time.

However Plymouth blew the match open during an excellent third quarter. A 10-0 opening made it 50-31 and despite Leicester scoring the next six points Gavin Love’s men continued to dominate.
Lehmon Colbert made it 59-38 and Riders never got closer than 16 during the fourth quarter as Raiders stretched out to 76-49 in front.

Elsewhere, Cheshire Jets used a 15-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to kill off Essex Pirates hopes of a first win this season after trailing by 8 at the end of the third.

Jeremey Bell hit 13 of his 31 points in the fourth as the hosts pulled off a 91-85 victory over the BBL’s bottom side.

A 13-8 run by Cheshire gave them a 47-42 half time advantage.

Essex’s best spell came in the third quarter. Trailing 55-49 the Southend-based team put together a superb 21-7 burst to lead 70-62 with just ten minutes remaining.

However, as the Pirates foul count began to mount up the Jets took control to begin the fourth quarter with a brilliant run. Essex fought back but couldn’t get close enough to prevent their 19th league loss of the season.

Saturday: Newcastle take pole position

With Fab Flournoy in hospital, Newcastle Eagles gave their ailing player-coach a tonic by claiming first place in the British Basketball League on Saturday with a 91-74 win at bottom side Essex Pirates.

The victory ended Mersey Tigers long spell at the top with Joe Chapman hitting a game-best 29 points. And Eagles stand-in coach David Forrester was pleased with the victory, but was impressed with the Pirates performance.

“This was a very tough game which was in doubt until the last two minutes of the game.  I’m glad that the guys stayed strong enough down the stretch to get the win.  I was impressed with the Essex Pirates and the way they played was nowhere near what their record suggests.”

Down 48-33 at half-time, the Pirates tried valiantly to get themselves right back into the game and a 9-0 burst midway through the third period closed the deficit to just seven points at 59-52.  The Eagles remained conscious of the fact that the home side were getting themselves right back into the game and stepped up the intensity at both ends of the floor and kept the fightback at bay for the remainder of the quarter to lead by nine points at 66-57 heading into the final stanza.

In the final period, the Pirates kept pushing forward looking to close the gap still further and got to within six points, but that was as close as they could get as the Eagles held their nerve from the foul-line to secure the victory.

Leicester Riders dented Sheffield Sharks title ambitions with an 89-85 win at JSC with JR Blount and Ryan Zamroz icing the triumph from the foul line in the final minute.

Leicester dented Sharks ambitions (Digital Sport)

The visits opened up a 12-point gap with a burst to start the fourth quarter, but the home side were not to be broken that easily as they rattled off a 14-3 run to tie the game up at 82-82 with less than two minutes remaining.

A Joseph Harris basket kept the game tied at 84-84 with 90 seconds remaining and a Zamroz basket followed by a pair of free-throws from Blount took the score out to 88-84 with 11 seconds left.

A Marcus Stout free-throw with 3.3 seconds closed the gap to 88-85 and he missed his second foul shot deliberately in the hope of securing the offensive rebound.

But Zamroz came down with the ball and was instantly fouled and he made one of his free-throws to secure the victory for the home side.

Guildford Heat rebounded from their Friday loss to Newcastle by seeing off Plymouth Raiders 89-79. However the Surrey side had to come from 72-41 down in an extraordinary rally as the visitors, beset by foul trouble, collapsed.

A Lehmon Colbert three-pointer sparked a 21-2 burst as the visitors led 52-39 heading into the locker rooms at the half.

But in the final period, Guildford surged as a 23-4 burst including 12 points from Martel McLemore to give them the lead at 76-71.  An Evaldas Zabas three-pointer kept the Raiders in the game at 81-76, but they could not close the gap any further as the home side secured the victory with a run of eight free-throws to close the game out.

Heat Head Coach Creon Raftopoulos said: “I’m very pleased with the second half performance, especially after a flat first half.  Holding Plymouth Raiders to 27 points in the second half was one of the keys to victory tonight and our team defence was good and that stands us in good stead for the rest of the season.”

Elsewhere, Milton Keynes Lions continued their revival with a thrilling 108-106 win at Worthing Thunder.

Both sides traded baskets before a three-pointer from Sherrad Prezzie-Blue got the home side to within a single point at 102-101, but Travis Nelson kept the Lions in front before a Shaun Durant three-point play tied the game at 104-104.  Travis Nelson and Shaun Durant traded baskets to take the score to 106-106 with 14 seconds remaining.

Both sides had opportunities to win the game, but it was Shawn Myers who sent the visitors into the lead with a putback with 3.5 seconds remaining.  Prezzie-Blue had the opportunity to win the game for the home side but his buzzer beater fell short.

31 points from Prezzie-Blue led the scoring for the home side, but it was Travis Nelson who led all scorers in the game with 35 points for the Lions.

“Obviously we’re happy to come out with a win,” Lions Head Coach Mike New said. “But we are aware we still have a lot to do. Although we are on bit of a run at the moment tonight’s game exposed a few cracks in our armour.”

Friday: Not such Fab news as Eagles miss coach

Newcastle Eagles stepped up the defence of their BBL Championship title with a 98-90 win over Guildford Heat and immediately dedicated their win to hospitalised player-coach Fab Flournoy who is suffering from pneumonia.

And veteran Charles Smith admitted it had been an emotional evening without their playcaller.

“We are still waiting to be told the full extent of how ill he is and he is a big miss to the team,” he said.

“Of course this win was for him and we also needed to get back on track and focus on the league after the disappointment of the BBL Trophy loss to Tigers last weekend.”

Heat – led by 29 points from Martell McLemore – had troubled the Eagles for long periods having been boosted by the arrival of new point guard, the former NBA D-League player Carlos Medlock, who arrived in place of fellow American David Schneider who has been released.

“I’ve been looking at the possibility of bringing in Carlos for a couple of weeks now, ever since it was obvious that David Schneider might not recover from his hamstring injury,” admitted Heat coach Creon Raftopoulos. “We have really struggled without a point guard and I’ve already seen the impact Carlos has made on court, both in training and in the game at Newcastle. When he was on court, we really competed with them, but when he was off court was when Newcastle made their big runs.”

But in the second quarter, the hosts blew the visitors away with a hot streak that saw them outscore their opponent 16-1. When Charles Smith drained one from outside, Raftopoulos had seen enough and called time-out to try and arrest the slump which had resulted in his team trailing by ten points.

Guildford posted an instant run of their own to get back to within a point at 36-35. A couple of dunks by the high flying Kadiri Richard helped the Eagles get going again and they retained their lead at 45-41 at the interval.

There was little between the teams in the third until the home side came back to life after picking up their defence and found themselves up by double figures again at 57-47. The Heat then briefly went into meltdown and a technical foul on Mike Martin led to the Eagles going sixteen points up.

Heat fought hard in the final quarter and even managed to get within six points at 84-78 but with just over three minutes to go a three-pointer by Smith helped restore the double digit lead and ease the fears of home fans as their team eventually got over the line.

Trey Moore hit 29 for Newcastle who can go top of the BBL with a win over Essex tonight.

But Raftopoulos was positive about his debutant.

“Unfortunately he was in foul trouble, so I had to sit him, but when he gets used to the referees over here, I’m sure he’ll do well,” he said. “He’s a natural point-guard, quick and able to penetrate and dish the ball. He’s also got a good three-pointer. He’s in very good shape and it’s a credit to him that he’s been able to hit the ground running and have the impact he’s had.”

Meanwhile in the other BBL Championship game on Friday night, Sheffield left it late but eventually saw off Worcester Wolves 93-84 to post another victory and continue their impressive run of form since they opened up the calendar year with a big loss to Newcastle.

Worcester lost a huge lead (Ville Vuorinen/Digitalsport)

A 10-2 tear put the Worcester as much as 41-26 in front in the second quarter and as hard as Atiba Lyons and his team tried, they couldn’t make any real impression in the remaining minutes of the half as the hosts still trailed 51-39 at the break.

However it was the Sharks who found their range from outside at the start of the third with Ryan Patton converting from the arc to inspire the hosts to seven unanswered points. Just past the midway point, Stout also got one to drop from three-point range and it was suddenly a one shot game at 59-56.

While Worcester responded by scoring six straight points to rebuild their cushion, their respite was temporary as the Sharks kept their foot on the gas and ended the quarter just one point down at 72-73.

Within sixty seconds a Steve Dagostino three-pointer had tied the game up much to the delight of the home fans at 75-75. When the visitors went back in front and remained so at 82-79, it set up what promised to be a thrilling finale but instead, Sharks eventually took control in powerful fashion to finish with a real flourish and a 14-2 run that killed off the Wolves for good.

Patton led the way with 24 points while centre Paul Williams claimed 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Thursday: Full Nelson strangles Tigers

Mersey Tigers – minus Tafari Toney – lost 97-95 at Milton Keynes Lions on Thursday night to give their British Basketball League title rivals greater hope.

And it was Travis Nelson’s go-head basket with 23 seconds left which condemned Tony Garbelotto’s men to a fourth defeat this season.

Nelson hit the game-winner (Ville Vuorinen/Digitalsport)

Great Britain duo Drew Sullivan and Nate Reinking hit 29 and 23 points but it couldn’t overcome a team effort from the rising Lions who overcame the Liverpool outfit for the second time this term.

Having already beaten the league leaders once this season it was a confident Lions team that began the game with a 7-2 burst, which then became 15-10 on a Stefan Gill three.

The visitors regrouped to level at 21-21 but in a high scoring first quarter it was the home team who came out on top as an 8-0 run helped them a to 36-27 advantage.

A Yorick Williams three gave Lions a double-digit lead at 39-29 and they managed to get to 50-39 before Mersey began to find their range. 

A David Aliu two and a three-point play from Sullivan cut the gap to 55-50 before Damarius Bolds had the last word in the half to make it 57-50 for Milton Keynes.

A 16-7 run, capped by a Bolds three, to start the third quarter by Lions put the home team firmly in control at 73-57.

Tigers trimmed the lead to 77-69 on a Sullivan bucket, but they could never really get close enough to mount a sustained challenge.

Reinking ensured the advantage was only nine as he made it 80-71 heading into the final period.

Back-to-back threes from Reinking and a two from his Great Britain colleague Sullivan opened the fourth quarter for Tigers as the Lions lead was trimmed to 82-79.

Lions went out again to 88-80 but an 11-3 run by Tigers made it a one-point game at 91-90. After Kris Clark made one of two from the line, Sullivan drained a pair from the charity stripe to tie the match at 92-92.

Williams and Sullivan traded three but ultimately, Nelson had the final word.

Shawn Myers led Milton Keynes with 22 and took a critical rebound when Reinking missed a game-tying jumper in the closing seconds.

Main photo: Ville Vuorinen/Digitalsport

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • Print

You must be logged in to post a comment Login