LEICESTER RIDERSLeicester Riders remain on track for a domestic treble and they became the first team to book their place in the semi-finals of the BBL play-offs with a 73-61 win over London Lions on Saturday night.

It gave the league and Cup winners an 143-129 aggregate victory over the capital side following the second leg of their quarter-final but Leicester were forced to grind out a result, only shaking off the dogged Lions in the final 12 minutes of a surprisingly competitive tie.

London, who trailed 70-68 after what will now be their last game at Crystal Palace on Friday, were pinned back by an early 14-6 deficit but fought back to threaten an upset when Orlan Jackman converted 1/2 from the foul line to give the eighth seeds a 27-22 lead with 4:08 left in the second period.

But Anthony Rowe – who had a game-high 24 points – inspired a 13-4 run and although the visitors levelled at 45-45 late in the third quarter, the Riders reeled off 13 consecutive points to affirm their superiority.

Worcester Wolves will take a narrow 81-78 cushion over Surrey Heat into Sunday’s second leg in Guildford.

Alex Owumi hit 22 points as the hosts came from behind in the fourth quarter, using a 12-5 run as a spur to eventually grab a priceless advantage.

The visiting Heat had much the better of the first half, as they rattled off an 11-0 burst including a Travis Holmes triple and 5 points from Chavis Holmes in a minute, to lead 13-5. The Heat started the second quarter in a similar fashion, quickly sending their lead into double-digits as they scored the first 7 points of the period, five more for Travis Holmes and two more for Chavis Holmes as they equally shared 16 of the Heat’s first 21 points.

The first half lead reached its peak midway through the second as Albert Margai hit a three-pointer for 20-34 with 3.40 to play in the half, but it was trimmed to 37-33 after 8 points from Alex Owumi kept the Wolves in touch.

The Wolves had much the better start to the third quarter to provide a hint as to what would come: an early 10-2 run saw back-to-back three-pointers from Stan Ocitti to give them their first lead since the opening minutes of the game at 47-46 but it didn’t last as the Heat responded with the next nine unanswered.

Sherrad Prezzie-Blue ended the third with a three-pointer and that helped to swing the momentum in the crucial last ten minutes. Stan Ocitti’s triple closed the gap to 67-64 and the game’s deciding spell came when Owumi added a three-pointer with 5.51 to play, followed by a pair of Prezzie-Blue free-throws to put the Wolves back in the ascendancy at 71-70.

Five lead changes ensued over a nervous three minute spell, and the teams were tied at 75 heading into the final three minutes. Masiulis put the Wolves in front, for good, and Prezzie-Blue made it 79-75. Two free-throws from Chavis Holmes got it back to 79-78, but Masiulis scored the last basket of the first leg with 43 seconds remaining.

Travis Holmes scored 22 for the Heat.

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