2015 BBL Cup Final MVP Rahmon Fletcher. Photo by Dave Moore.

2015 BBL Cup Final MVP Rahmon Fletcher. Photo by Dave Moore.

Newcastle boys keep on rolling on

BBL Cup Final
Glasgow Rocks 71 (15, 29, 51) (JaJuan Smith 17, Achara 16, Egwuonwu 10)
Newcastle Eagles 84 (15, 40, 60) (Charles Smith 21, Jones 17, Fletcher 15)

Eagles had lost out in the previous two finals, but avenged those defeats, overpowering Rocks behind an MVP performance from Rahmon Fletcher, who finished with 15 points, four assists and four rebounds.

For Glasgow, their 12-year wait for a trophy goes on as they lost their fourth Cup final, despite a spirited display, which included a 16-point, 11-rebound return from Kieron Achara.

MVP Rahmon Fletcher. Photo by Ville Vuorinen

Eagles Rahmon Fletcher in action. Photo by Ville Vuorinen

It was Fletcher who sparked the game into life following a cagey opening as he connected on back-to-back drives to the basket.

Eagles led by five until player-coach Sterling Davis drained a three-pointer and added a forceful put-back either side of good play inside from Paul Egwuonwu.

See the BBL Cup ‘All-Time Winners

A Rock & A Hard Place

Don’t get caught between a Rock and a hard place. Photo by Dave Moore.

Charles Smith curtailed that momentum however, completing an and-one play to ensure the first period ended level.

Eagles carried that into the second period as Charles Smith prevented an easy score for Danny Huffor with an excellent chase-down block, before scoring from long-range to open a seven-point lead.

JaJuan Smith answered right back with a three-pointer, despite a hand in his face, and Achara added a pair of big dunks.

But the slashing and finishing of Fletcher and Jones, allied with increased defensive pressure, was the difference at half-time, Eagles leading 40-29.

Rocks’ response did not get off to the best of starts after the break, as they committed three turnovers in quick succession.

2015 BBL Cup Final Action

2015 BBL Cup Final Action. Photo by Dave Moore.

But this appeared to refocus Davis’ men, and Achara and JaJuan Smith led the resistance, creating opportunities with offensive rebounds and pushing the pace.

Eagles came back once more as Charles Smith really began to find his touch, but a triple from Tommy Freeman late in the third kept Rocks in touch, and full of hope.

Another trophy slips through the fingers of the Rocks.  Photo by Dave Moore.

Another trophy slips through the fingers of the Rocks. Photo by Dave Moore.

But as nerves crept in and mistakes followed for both teams, the steady scoring hand of Charles Smith got Eagles out of trouble on more than one occasion, and Jones’ energy only added to Glasgow’s problems.

While Eagles remained out in front, the finishing blow eluded them, that is until Charles Smith connected from the corner to put the result beyond doubt, with just over a minute to play.

Fletcher was the driving force behind the success, but Eagles’ consistent scoring from all over the floor was too much for Glasgow, who were paced by 17 points from JaJuan Smith.

Friday 9 January 2015
BBL Championship Results
Leeds Force 80 – 93 Plymouth Radiers 19:30
Sheffield Sharks 82 – 95 Cheshire Phoenix 19:30
Worcester Wolves 99 – 91 Newcastle Eagles 19:30
Saturday 10 January 2015
BBL Championship Results
Bristol Flyers 59 – 82 Leicester Riders 19:30
Surrey United 80 – 78 Durham Wildcats 19:00
Sunday 11 January 2015
BBL Cup Final
Glasgow Rocks 71 – 84 Newcastle Eagles 15:30
P Team PL W L Pts
1 Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 18 16 2 32
2 Worcester Wolves 19 15 4 30
3 Leicester Riders 16 13 3 26
4 Cheshire Phoenix 18 13 5 26
5 London Lions 16 9 7 18
6 Sheffield Sharks 16 8 8 16
7 Manchester Giants 19 8 11 16
8 Bristol Flyers 19 7 12 14
9 Durham Wildcats 19 7 12 14
10 Glasgow Rocks 15 6 9 12
11 Plymouth University Raiders 18 6 12 12
12 Surrey United 19 4 15 8
13 Leeds Force 20 4 16 8
2013/14 League Table

Quote of the Week

Fab Flournoy still with only one defeat this season,  Photo by Dave Moore.

Fab Flournoy still with only one defeat this season. Photo by Dave Moore.

It clearly isn’t just any other game, it is the Cup Final. However, what we strive to attain is a consistency of approach to every game. So in that way I hope that our guys will simply use it as an opportunity to put into practice what we have tried to do every game this season.Eagles’ Head Coach Fab Flournoy

Benson stars again as Plymouth sweep Leeds

BBL Championship
Leeds Force 80 (15,39,53) (Hall 19, Van Oostrum 16, Attah 14)
Plymouth University Raiders 93 (29,45,67) (Benson 38, Clarke 22, Wilcher 10)
Leeds Force Head Coach Matt Newby.  Photo by Chris Midgley.  Library photo.

Leeds Force Head Coach Matt Newby. Photo by Chris Midgley. Library photo.

Plymouth University Raiders took a step closer to the BBL Championship Playoff places as they beat Leeds Force 80-93 in Yorkshire to snap a run of consecutive defeats, and win only their second road game of the season. That previous road win was also in Leeds, and they have now completed a 3-0 sweep of their rivals for that playoff spot.

Raiders were led by Brent Benson’s 38 points, which is the highest individual tally from any player in the BBL Championship this season; the guard, who is the leading three-point shooter in the league, hit eight triples on the night.

And the visitors led this game from tip-to-buzzer after racing into a 0-7 lead just three minutes in. They finished the first period with another 13-2 burst, started and finished by Benson triples, for a 15-29 lead.

New signings Devon Van Oostrum and Sam Attah led the resistance for the hosts in the second quarter, as the latter hit consecutive three-pointers to spark a 10-0 burst when they didn’t allow the Raiders to score for three and a half minutes. And a Branimir Mikulic triple got Leeds back to 39-43 just before the break.

But that would not last long as Benson had the better of the backcourt battle in the second half. With the game still tight, he hit consecutive three-pointers to establish a 41-51 lead in another massive 13-2 burst, in which he added a third triple. And the lead would stay in double figures to the end, peaking at 74-93 inside the last two minutes on a Louis Sayers three-pointer.

DiNunno steals headlines as Phoenix crush Sharks

BBL Championship
Sheffield Sharks 82 (17,34,60) (Lewis 15, Tuck 15, Holmes 13)
Cheshire Phoenix 95 (16,42,63) (DiNunno 28, King 24, Watt 21)
Mike DiNunno...Unplayable!  Photo - David Howe

Mike DiNunno…Unplayable! Photo by David Howe.

Cheshire Phoenix are up to third in the BBL Championship table after winning 82-95 at Sheffield Sharks to record their tenth straight win. It is only the second time in the club’s history that they have won ten straight, in pursuit of a club record of 11 games from 2001. It was also their first win in the Steel City since March 2012, and only their second in seven years.

Mike Cook, back in the game. Photo  - David Howe

Mike Cook, back in the game. Photo by David Howe.

The Sharks have now lost consecutive home games, and five of their last six, but it didn’t look that way early on as Olu Babalola scored five in a row to help them out to a 9-2 lead. Mike DiNunno made consecutive baskets as the Phoenix responded in kind to tie the game, but a Nick Lewis three-pointer prevented them from taking the lead.

But the Sharks could only hold off their visitors until the start of the second stanza, when Taylor King’s three-pointer put Cheshire up 19-21. King added another in what became a 12-4 start to the second, and a 21-28 Phoenix lead, with the hosts not scoring for three minutes. Lewis hit another three for the Sharks, but David Aliu matched him in a 10-2 tear before half time, and Cheshire established a double-digit lead at 30-40.

But the Sharks were not done as, led by Mike Cook’s six points, they posted an 11-2 run in the third quarter to regain the lead at 51-50. But, fittingly, DiNunno and King settled the game as they hit three-pointers in succession, to give the visitors the lead for good. And they dominated the fourth quarter, scoring 32 points and using a 20-2 surge to bury the Sharks, scoring five three-pointers in the run, as King scored nine late points and Simeon Naydenov added six.

Wolves better Eagles & send them to ’16 And 2′

BBL Championship
Worcester Wolves 99 (23,45,71) (Holmes 24, Thurman 21, Guede 18)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 91 (16,34,66) (Defoe 20, Smith 18, Thomson 15)

Wolves 2014 15 - 1Worcester Wolves have shown their BBL Championship credentials by withstanding a late fight back to beat the league-leading Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 99-91.

Wolves have inflicted a first defeat in 20 games on Eagles, dating back to the team’s last meeting on the opening night of the season – crucially, it means Wolves have the head-to-head in the title race.

Chavis Holmes scored 24 points and dished out seven assists to lead Wolves to their fourth straight win, and only their second home win against Eagles in the last four years.

And Worcester led for all but one minute of this game, after racing into a 10-2 lead in three minutes as Jamal Williams opened with a pair of three-pointers. The Eagles came back, but Frenchman Remi Dibo hit a late triple of his own to give Wolves a 23-16 first quarter lead.

Alex Owumi gave them a double-digit lead with a three-pointer to open the second stanza, only for Eagles to come back once more, scoring the next nine to narrow the gap to a single point. But the double-digit margin was reinstated before the half time break as the Wolves scored the last six points, Owumi making 3/3 at the line and Paul Guede hitting a buzzer-beating three.

And the hosts initially maintained that margin, with Robert Thurman dunking home to see the lead peak at 63-48 with four minutes to play in the third. But Rahmon Fletcher’s buzzer-beating score sent the Eagles into the fourth just five points in arrears, before their late comeback. A triple from Drew Lasker set the tone, as they headed into the last five minutes just one point down, before Charles Smith tied the game at 81 with a trey of his own. Fletcher made the next score and the Eagles briefly held the lead at 81-83.

But the game finished as it started, with Jamal Williams making a crucial three-pointer to put the Wolves back in front inside the last three minutes. Holmes added to that, but Andy Thomson’s late triple kept the Eagles within one, only for Guede and Holmes to see the game out from the line.

Riders whup Flyers to go back to third

BBL Championship
Bristol Flyers 59 (15,30,42)(Lautier-Ogunleye 13, Streete 11, Stewart 9)
Leicester Riders 82 (19,41,59) (Hassan 23, Anderson 19, Bernardini 15)
Rashad Hassan

Rashad Hassan.

Leicester Riders are back up to third in the BBL Championship table after beating Bristol Flyers 59-82 on Saturday night, to start 2015 with three wins on the bounce. It was Leicester’s first trip to Bristol in the BBL, and saw them inflict the home side’s heaviest defeat of the season on their own floor – Bristol’s fourth defeat in their last five home games.

Rashad Hassan led the Riders with 23 points, the third game in a row that he has paced his team and seeing him cement his place in the league’s top ten leading scorers. British forward Jamell Anderson was in support with 19 points on the night.

And it was he who got the Riders off to a fast start, with an ‘and-one’ play that gave them an early 9-2 lead, from where they never looked back. The lead reached 13-4 before the Flyers hit back, and the hosts finished the first quarter with a 6-2 run to get back within striking distance at 15-19.

But Riders pushed their lead out from the opening of the second stanza, with an 8-1 tear including consecutive baskets for Hassan, and then scored five straight to reach 20-36 on the run up to half time. Flyers got it back to 30-41 by the break, but they would not be within single figures again.

A 13-2 opening to the third quarter, in which Hassan added six and Bernardini hit a three-pointer, continued a theme, and pushed the lead through twenty at 32-54, which proved to be insurmountable. The lead peaked at 57-78 on Connor Washington’s three-pointer with one minute to go.

Flyers have struggled with Riders on both occasions that the teams have met this season, with these being Bristol’s two lowest scoring games. This time, the Riders scored a massive 30 points from the 21 turnovers that they forced out of their hosts.

Big win for Surrey who sneak past Durham

BBL Championship
Surrey United 80 (27,37,56) (Downing 23, Knutson 21, Dusha 17)
Durham Wildcats 78 (21,35,54) (Urli 23, Bucci 13, Puk 12)

Surrey United have snapped a five-game losing streak as they beat Durham Wildcats 80-78, with big man Kramer Knutson’s buzzer-beating score. It is the first time that United have beaten Wildcats in five meetings, and lifts them off the bottom of the table at the expense of Leeds Force.

Kramer Knutson in action.  Library Photo from  getsurrey.co.uk.

Kramer Knutson in action. Library Photo via Get Surrey.

And United led for much of the game after Elvisi Dusha scored five points in a row to end the first quarter on a 10-4 run for a 27-21 advantage. Knutson scored early in the second stanza to see their lead peak at eight points, but the teams could barely be separated from that point onwards.

The Wildcats scored the next seven, Panos Mayindombe hitting a three-pointer, and that got them to within one as there was no more than one shot between the teams for the remainder of the half, United maintaining their edge only courtesy of the low scoring period.

The nature of the game changed after the break as the teams traded runs. Wildcats burst out with a 14-3 start, Fran Urli scoring five and Ralph Bucci’s three-pointer giving them their largest lead of the game at 40-49. But Anthony Downing scored consecutively as the hosts grabbed the next eight points, and that run became 12-3 in total as they levelled on a Donatas Visockis basket.

And the teams were neck-and-neck for much of the fourth period, despite Downing and Dusha giving United a 72-67 lead with three minutes to play. Bucci hit consecutive triples to give the Wildcats the lead at 76-78 with 1.21 to play, levelled immediately by Knutson. Both teams missed shots before United had possession for the final play of the game, Knutson scoring on the buzzer amidst much confusion as it wasn’t immediately clear if the officials had given the basket.

It was a crucial win for United, as they retain hopes of a BBL Championship Playoff place. Knutson had 21 on the night with 11 rebounds, a score tally that was bettered only by Anthony Downing’s 23.

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