Leicester Riders demolished Bristol Flyers 85-56 in the first leg of their BBL Trophy quarter-final.

A dominant second half performance in Newcastle from the British Basketball League champions ensured that Wednesday’s return in Worcester should be a mere formality.

And having led only 33-30 at half-time, Rob Paternostro’s men proved irresistible thereafter with a 25-6 run that built a 64-43 lead that kept on growing until the end with Geno Crandall injecting 21 points and ten assists.

“We had good looks in the first half – in the second half they went down,” said Paternostro. “Geno was masterful at the point guard position. He was awesome in finding people and scoring.”

Bristol, for whom Eric Lockett had all but one of his team-high 16 points in the first 20 minutes in the absence of Teddy Okereafor, now have a mountain to climb.

“The only thing for us right now is to go and win the game,” head coach Andreas Kapoulas said.

London Lions had to battle mightily to usurp Cheshire Phoenix and take a 73-66 advantage into their second leg on Wednesday.

But, having looked like a possible blowout early on, Cheshire valiantly fought back to keep the tie alive.

Vince Macaulay’s men swept 33-17 clear on a three-pointer from DeAndre Liggins midway through the second period as a rout loomed.

However a 16-3 Nix run reduced the deficit to 38-34 at half-time as Lions’ array of bigs sat as the game progressed, the offence of the BBL Trophy winners stagnated.

Mike McCall hit a three to put Cheshire 61-60 in front with 4:05 left and then London held their breath as Justin Robinson was forced out with a knock to his knee.

The Nix, punishing in transition, pushed for more but Jules Dang Akodo was admirably effective in a late cameo in his place, hitting a three that handed Lions the lead for good.

And then his side extended their cushion – and their momentum – headed to Worcester with a four-point play from Orlando Parker that was supplemented by a three under pressure from Dirk Williams.with 1.3 seconds left to take his tally to a game-high 22 points.

“I don’t think it’s too serious, just a bad impact hit,” said Robinson, who added 17 points with all but two in the first half. “I’ve been struggling with a bad knee all season but it was just bad timing,. I should be all right.”

It wasn’t as comprehensive a triumph as he would have liked. “I thought we were upbeat and took our foot off the pedal. We have got to be more disciplined as a team and more sharper.”

Kahron Ross headed the Phoenix with 13 points. “These tw0-legged games are really difficult to get your head around sometimes,” said Ben Thomas. “When the lead gets out that far, you can lose the tie a few minutes. But I’m proud of the guys sticking it out.”

If they can tweak our offence – and certainly improve on 2-17 shooting from three-point range – and defend in a similar manner, his players have a chance.

“We’re only seven points down at half-time,” Thomas underlined. “We’ve been down by 17 in this tie so that’s nothing.”

On Tuesday at the Vertu Arena, Plymouth Raiders meet Worcester Wolves (7.30) in the last eight after Newcastle Eagles take on Sheffield Sharks.

Photos: Ahmedphotos




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