Cheshire Phoenix got back on track with a 65-53 defeat of Leeds Force, having seen their 10-game winning streak snapped last time out.

Leaders Newcastle Eagles repeated their BBL Cup Final success against Glasgow Rocks with a 96-67 defeat of the vanquished finalists at Sport Central.

Charles Smith and Rahmon Fletcher were the tormentors of Sterling Davis’ side once more, scoring 21 and 19 points respectively in an impressive display.

Impressive in a different sense were Worcester Wolves, who held off Sheffield Sharks to secure a seventh straight success.

Robert Thurman scored a game-high 17 points and collected eight rebounds, despite being limited to 19 minutes by an ankle injury.

And Bristol Flyers halted a four-game slide by beating bottom club Surrey United 65-53 behind 18 points from Alif Bland.

Friday 23 January 2015
BBL Championship – Fixtures
Newcastle Eagles 96 – 67 Glasgow Rocks 19:30
Leeds Force 53 – 65 Cheshire Phoenix 19:30
Surrey United 53 – 65 Bristol Flyers 19:30
Worcester Wolves 78 – 75 Sheffield Sharks 19:30
Saturday 24 January 2015
BBL Championship – Fixture
Leicester Riders v Durham Wildcats 19:30
Sunday 25 January 2015
BBL Championship – Fixtures
Cheshire Phoenix v Sheffield Sharks 17:30
Durham Wildcats v Glasgow Rocks 16:00
Manchester Giants v Leicester Riders 18:00
Plymouth Raiders v London Lions 16:00

P Team PL W L Pts
1 Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 19 17 2 34
2 Worcester Wolves 21 17 4 34
3 Leicester Riders 17 14 3 28
4 Cheshire Phoenix 19 14 5 28
5 London Lions 17 9 8 18
6 Sheffield Sharks 18 8 10 16
7 Manchester Giants 20 8 12 16
8 Bristol Flyers 21 8 13 16
9 Glasgow Rocks 17 7 10 14
10 Durham Wildcats 19 7 12 14
11 Plymouth University Raiders 18 6 12 12
12 Leeds Force 22 5 17 10
13 Surrey United 20 4 16 8
2014/15 League Table

Quote of the Week


I have scouted them five times this year and went to their game last Friday and they beat Manchester.

They are a dangerous club, very well coached, not a big club, they play small, but they play hard. It doesn’t matter who they are playing, they are not going to change their style, a very scrappy team, a very dangerous team.

If you don’t bring your best, you are going to come away from the game disappointed.”Phoenix Head Coach John Coffino

Rocks still unable to beat Eagles (Now 0-11)

BBL Championship
Newcastle Eagles 96 (17, 40, 75) (Smith 21, Fletcher 19, Martin 15)
Glasgow Rocks 67 (22, 35, 56) (Achara 20, Freeman 10, Huffor 10)
Library Photo

There was to be no revenge for Glasgow Rocks as Newcastle Eagles continued their fantastic recent record against the Scottish side with a 96-67 victory at Sport Central on Friday.

This BBL Championship meeting came less then two weeks after Eagles outlasted Sterling Davis’ side to lift the BBL Cup.

Fab Flournoy’s league leaders repeated the trick to get back on track in the BBL Championship, having lost last time out in the competition against second-placed Worcester Wolves, who also won on Friday.

Eagles have now won their last 11 games against Rocks, despite trailing early on in this one. That was until a Charles Smith jump shot sparked the 9-0 second-quarter run, which would swing the game Eagles’ way as he found his touch on his way to 21 points.

Cup Final MVP Rahmon Fletcher was the perfect foil for Smith once again, pouring in 19 points to go with five assists while there were double-doubles for Scott Martin and Darius Defoe.

Kieron Achara was the high man for Rocks, building on a strong start to finish with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

But Davis’ men must hope for better in the second leg of their north-east double-header when they travel to Durham Wildcats on Sunday.

Wolves get the better of Sharks in another close one

BBL Championship
Worcester Wolves 78 (19, 39, 61) (Thurman 17, Guede 16, Chavis Holmes 15)
Sheffield Sharks 75 (12, 33, 56) (Cook 15, Horstmann 12, Lewis 12)
Paul JAMES 2014 - 1

Worcester Wolves racked up their seventh straight win after holding off Sheffield Sharks for a 78-75 BBL Championship success at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday.

These sides met seven times last season and were well matched once more as the gap never reached double digits.

Sharks slip to an 8-10 league record as they led for just three minutes of the contest, after Patrick Horstmann connected from beyond-the-arc in the second quarter.

That is not to say Atiba Lyons’ men were ever out of this game. The visitors trailed by just two points inside the final minute when Nick Lewis connected on a pair of free throws after BJ Holmes sparked hopes of late drama with a big triple.

But, as they have done so often already this season, Paul James’ side made their shots from the line when they needed to down the stretch, chiefly Dejan Radojevic, Chavis Holmes and Paul Guede, to keep their title charge rolling.

Still troubled by an ankle injury, Robert Thurman started from the bench but was able to contribute a game-high 17 points, as well as eight rebounds, in less than 19 minutes of action.

Wolves got big performances from their core group of leaders including Guede, Chavis Holmes and Alex Owumi.

Mike Cook led Sharks with 15 points while Horstmann, Lewis and Mike Tuck all had 12 in a losing effort ahead of Sunday’s trip to Cheshire Phoenix.

Hall stars but Phoenix win ugly against Force

BBL Championship
Leeds Force 53 (14, 26, 37) (Hall 23, McCann 11, Mikulic 5)
Cheshire Phoenix 65 (17, 35, 48) (King 13, Watt 11, Naydenov 11)
All eyes on oliver Hylands.    Photo by Chris Midgley.

All eyes on Oliver Hylands. Photo by Chris Midgley.

Cheshire Phoenix bounced back from their first defeat in 11 matches to beat Leeds Force 65-53 at Carnegie Sports Arena on Friday.

Will Hall ... unstoppable!

Will Hall … unstoppable!

John Coffino’s side saw their 10-game winning streak end at Plymouth Raiders in the BBL Trophy last Sunday but responded with a battling victory to move level on points with Leicester Riders in third position in the BBL Championship.

Both sides struggled from the floor, meaning Phoenix failed to really pull away, but they did most of their good work at the free-throw line, having been sent there 27 times.

Simeon Naydenov connected on all eight of his trips to the charity stripe on his way to 11 points, a tally matched by Demond Watt, who shot an efficient 5-of-6 from the floor.

Taylor King led Phoenix with 13 points and 11 rebounds as Phoenix edged every period.

Will Hall had a huge night for Leeds, pouring in 23 points and pulling down 15 rebounds, but not enough of his team-mates followed his lead.

James McCann was the only other of Matt Newby’s men to break double digits, scoring 11, as they slipped to a 5-17 league record.

James McCann going against Mike DiNunno.   Photo by Chris Midgley.

James McCann going against Mike DiNunno. Photo by Chris Midgley.

Surrey still looking for the right formula

BBL Championship
Surrey United 53 (4, 18, 32) (Downing 19, Knutson 14, Dusha 10)
Bristol Flyers 65 (23, 30, 49) (Bland 18, Seilund 12, Streete 11)

Bristol Flyers got off to a hot start before cruising to a 65-53 success at Surrey Sports Park on Friday, which ended Surrey United’s recent revival.

Bottom club United had lost five games in a row before their first back-to-back victories of the season sparked hopes of a push for the BBL Play-offs prior to this clash.

But Bristol seized the initiative early on with a 14-0 first-quarter run, which left Jack Majewski’s men with a mountain to climb.

Flyers themselves entered the game full of motivation, seeking to avenge defeat against United in their previous meeting while avoiding a season’s worst losing streak of five games.

Andreas Kapoulas’ side managed to achieve that behind their fantastic opening period before responding well to Surrey’s fight-back in the second quarter.

Anthony Downing led the resistance with 19 points and Kramer Knutson underlined his reputation as a walking double-double with 14 points and 12 points.

But after an even second half, Surrey’s sluggish opening would prove the difference.

Alif Bland paced Bristol with 18 points Mathias Seilund added 12 in a disciplined team display.

Leicester Riders v Durham Wildcats

Saturday 24 January 2015
Sir David Wallace Sports Centre – 7:30pm
Rashad Hassan

Rashad Hassan

Leicester Riders and Durham Wildcats meet for the first time this season on Saturday, with Rob Paternostro’s men beginning to show the signs of previous triumphs.

Riders have won five straight following a narrow success at Sheffield Sharks and a 30-point win against Leeds Force last weekend.

Center and stalwart Barry Lamble attributes much of their recent run to their developing core of young talent – and one difference-maker in particular.

“Our young English players have been the difference for us this season but I need to give a special mention to Jamell Anderson, who has really stepped up this season and, for me, has been our X-factor,” said Lamble.

“He might not always be the highest scorer or rebounder but it proves that stats aren’t everything and I definitely think that without him this season we wouldn’t have won some of the games we have.”

Wildcats were beaten by two against Worcester Wolves last weekend and will face another tough test in Leicester.

Lamble is loathe to compare the current crop to Riders’ treble winners of 2013, but there are similarities to be drawn, both in terms of personnel and performance.

Lamble added: “It has been proven in this league over a number of years that the teams that stick to a solid core are the teams that tend to be the most successful.

“The balance of youth and experience over the past few years is what I feel have been key for us. Now this season we have had Pavol Losonsky and Yorick Williams return from the treble-winning year. So we have six players with us this season that were with us in that historic year.

“Although I really don’t like comparing past teams to each other as they are all different and to replicate the team of that season would be hard to do.

“However, I feel that we have the talent, work ethic and determination to at least give us a good chance of putting us in a good position this season.”

Cheshire Phoenix v Sheffield Sharks

Sunday 25 January 2015
Northgate Arena – 5:30pm

John Coffino hopes last weekend’s BBL Trophy exit acts as a wake-up call to his Cheshire Phoenix side ahead of a tough weekend.

Phoenix travel to Leeds Force on Friday before hosting Sheffield Sharks on Sunday – after being denied a club-record-equalling 11th straight victory by Raiders side last time out.

Coffino felt such a performance had been coming, but was encouraged by the reaction from some of the leaders in the locker room and is confident it could act as a catalyst for improved displays.

“We deserved to not win that game, the guys, to a man, know that,” said the Phoenix coach.

“Since we have been back from Christmas break, we have been on a bit of a slippery slope.

“When you win it kind of masks your mistakes and people seem to forget that you are heading in the wrong direction, even if you are getting the wins.

“We were heading for something like this, and hopefully it is any eye-opener, hopefully it is a wake-up call.

“But credit to our veterans, they recognised it, everybody else did, so we are all on the same page, which is good.”

Adding to that core of veterans is new signing Dustin Salisbery, fresh from a prolific scoring spell in Iceland.

The combo guard has previously worked with Coffino in the United States and his coach is excited to add him to a group that is already bursting with experience to match their talent.

Coffino added: “He’s a veteran, he’s a leader, an all-round player.

“He will get better with every game, and it will be good to see what a mature player can bring to a team that already has some good veterans.

“We have just got to get him on the same page with the players, the system, the referees and league.”

Manchester Giants v Leicester Riders

Sunday 25 January 2015
Lucozade Powerleague SportsDome – 6:00pm
Giants 2014-15 - 2

Connor Murtagh believes Manchester Giants must return to what made them successful at the start to the season, if they are to beat Leicester Riders at home on Sunday.

Giants lost to Riders in their opening game before beating BBL heavyweights Sheffield Sharks and Worcester Wolves in their next two.

But defeats against Sharks and Leeds Force last weekend mean Jeff Jones’ side have won just two of the last nine, and Murtagh feels improved offensive execution could be the key.

“If we stick to the basketball we played at the beginning of the season where we were distributing the ball very well and shooting efficiently, we could come away with a very tough win from a strong opponent like Leicester,” said Murtagh.

“They are a very well balanced team with talented guards who can shoot beyond-the-arc as well as penetrating and getting to the hoop with strong inside players, who have a great touch around the rim.

“But I know we have guys who can lock down these threats and give us the energy we need to triumph.”

Murtagh insists his squad have proved they can emerge from a tough run before, and will be motivated to do so once again.

He added: “The firepower we have in our squad is phenomenal, we just need to produce on both ends of the floor if we want to get results.

“Minor lapses cost us the game against Sheffield but we showed patience and composure down the stretch to finish the game.

“These losses are tough but we have been in this situation just before Christmas and we are just as fired up as we were at the start of the year right now to start making the final push towards a big Play-off spot.

Durham Wildcats v Glasgow Rocks

Sunday 25 January 2015
Newton Aycliffe LC – 4:00pm

Limiting Glasgow Rocks’ ability to score from the three-point line will be key for Durham Wildcats, when they host the Scottish club on Sunday.

Rocks were deadly from long-range last weekend with Kieron Achara hitting a game-winner from beyond-the-arc against London Lions on Friday before Falkirk Fury were dumped out of the BBL Trophy as Sterling Davis’ side connected on 20 triples.

Wildcats have already been beaten twice by Rocks this season, but Joel Madourie and his team-mates will focus on taking their opponents out of their stride in this final league meeting.

Madourie said: “We have played them twice already so we know they’re dangerous from the three and know they have great shooters like Danny Huffor and Tommy Freeman

“So obviously our key is to make them be penetrators then shooters because if we sag off them or dare them to shoot, they’ll hurt us.”

Wildcats almost ended Worcester Wolves’ BBL Trophy defence last weekend, before eventually succumbing to a two-point defeat.

But while such losses are often the most difficult to deal with, Lee Davie’s men can at least take encouragement from the fact they are heading in the right direction, pushing one of the BBL’s best right to the wire – ahead of facing another in-form outfit.

“We can take positives out of the game as it showed that we can compete against one of the top teams in the BBL,” added Madourie.

“But we were disappointed that we didn’t get the win but that’s basketball sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”

Plymouth University Raiders v London Lions

Sunday 25 January 2015
Plymouth Pavilions – 4:00pm
Raiders Head Coach Jay Marriott.  Photo via Plymouth Herald

Raiders Head Coach Jay Marriott. Photo via Plymouth Herald

Jay Marriott feels now Plymouth Raiders have shown what they can do, it’s up to them to prove they can perform at that level consistently – starting with Sunday’s clash with London Lions.

Raiders caused what was perhaps the shock of the first round of the BBL Trophy when they ended Cheshire Phoenix’s 10-game winning streak behind a fantastic shooting display last Sunday.

But Marriott’s focus soon turned to using that success as a platform to further success.

“Certainly not just the result but performance has really shown us what we are capable of,” said Marriott.

“We do need to remember it’s just one result and we need to build on it, but I am very proud of our guys.”

One of the standout performers from the contest was debutant, and former Phoenix forward, Gareth Murray.

The Great Britain international came off the bench with Raiders trailing by 16 and looked right at home, contributing 14 points.

“Honestly if you watched that game you wouldn’t have thought it was his first game,” added Marriot.

“But in fairness that does show what I thought all along, which is that he could really fit the group with no fuss at all.

“Gareth knows I’ve brought him in to give us not just talent but experience, he’s been there and seen it all and will really help us in our quest for a great Trophy run and push for the Play-offs.”

Raiders sit just two points outside the top eight, but with seven teams separated by only six points, every point will be vital, and London have traditionally been a tough nut for Plymouth to crack.

“London, no matter what vein of form they are in, are just tough to play against,” admitted Marriott.

“Very tough mentally and physically, very athletic, some great individual talent.

“In the past they have been a real achilles heel for us, so we will be looking to try and put that right.”

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