REVIEW - Essex Leopards and Team Birmingham Elite pick up big wins in double-header action!

NBL Division One

 Leicester Warriors 91 v 90 Hemel Storm 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 3.00pm

Leicester Warriors grabbed a clutch win over Hemel Storm on Saturday afternoon to kick off this weekend's NBL Division One action - with the win the East Midlands' side improve to 7-11 on the season. Hemel edged ahead after quarter one, but the Warriors fought back on their home floor to lead by two points as the teams headed for the locker rooms. The hosts' narrow lead at the half grew to a five point advantage heading into the final stanza and, despite a late rally, Leicester were able to outlast the Storm to take a single point victory behind a clutch free throw from Taylor Johnson that sealed the deal. The Warriors' triumph sees them climb the standings to ninth position, now just one win back from the Hoods who hold the final playoff spot. Meanwhile, Hemel fall to 5-10, needing a couple more results down the stretch as they fight for safety.

Taylor Johnson led all scorers with 26 points for Leicester in the win, well supported by Raphell Thomas-Edwards' 24 point effort. Sharp-shooter Martyn Gayle also added 15 points for the hosts. TrayVonn Wright backed up his strong debut weekend last week for Hemel with 23 points to lead the Storm. Bode Adeluola finished with 23, while Blayne Freckleton chipped in 12 points for Coach Robert Youngblood's squad.


 Barking Abbey Crusaders 71 v 75 Nottingham McDonalds Hoods 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.00pm

Live Stats

A tight final scoreline saw Barking Abbey Crusaders fall to back-to-back losses as they opened up their weekend double-header on their home floor. The game looked to have been decided early on when the Hoods came out hot, pouring in 29 points in the first quarter and taking a convincing double-digit lead. However, after a rallying cry from Coach Lloyd Gardner, the second period would be all Barking as they stormed back to cut the deficit to just three points at the half. The Crusaders continued their strong play in the third quarter to take their first lead of the game, before a quick run by Nottingham saw them regain the advantage. An evenly contested game down the stretch kept the scoreline close, but the Crusaders could never quite muster a run to take the lead again, as Cole Welle, Delaney Powell and new signing Anastasios Traianos hit key late free throws for Coach Ryan Westley's side.

The Hoods were paced by a double-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds and two steals from Cole Welle, while Delaney Powell finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists as the other major contributor for Nottingham. David Watts came off the bench to chip in nine points and two rebounds, while Andrej Slavik had eight points and three rebounds. Former Manchester Giants BBL guard Anastasios Traianos finished with seven points and two rebounds on his debut. Robin Bedford came off the bench for the Crusaders to lead all scorers with 23 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, shooting an efficient 10-15 from the field. Recent FPU Sunbirds signee Jonathan Brown led the starting group with 15 points, six rebounds and two steals, while Kyle Carey finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Big man Theo Hughes was just shy of a double-double as he chipped in seven points and nine rebounds.


 Bradford Dragons 90 v 104 Derby Trailblazers 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.15pm

Live Stats

The 2019 woes for the Bradford Dragons continued on Saturday night as they failed to grab their first win of the year on their fifth attempt. A high-scoring contest at the Dragons Den saw the two sides trading baskets in a cagey opening exchange where Bradford edged ahead. A couple of sharp runs by the Blazers during the second stanza saw the visitors take a 10 point lead into the half-time interval, having poured in 31 points throughout the period. Having cut the lead to eight midway through the third quarter, the game quickly got away from the Dragons, and this is the closest they would come as Derby held on to a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. 

With no fewer than six players reaching double figures for the visitors, Coach Matt Shaw was likely highly impressed with the team effort in the win, despite having only eight players to call upon on the road. Tre-Shawn Wilford and Malcolm Smith led the scoring with 19 points apiece, as the former added three assists and five steals, while the latter chipped in seven rebounds and two assists. Kayne King had a double-double of 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds, while Matt Ward-Hibbert came off the bench to match his scoring output with 16 points of his own, to go with two rebounds. Isa Brandon and Oli Stanley rounded out the double figure scorers with 15 and 13, respectively. Meanwhile, Rihards Sulcs came off the bench for Coach Chris Mellor to lead all scorers with a game-high 26 points, 11 rebounds and two steals. Rafael Saipe finished with 19 points, four rebounds and six assists, while Ricky Fetske had 15 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Jermayne Laing skippered the side on the night and chipped in 12 points and four assists off the wing. 


 Manchester Magic 63 v 87 Essex Leopards 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.30pm

Live Stats

A strong performance by Essex Leopards meant Manchester Magic fans will continue their wait to see their team grab a victory in 2019. The losing streak for Coach Simon Fisher's side has now extended to 13 games, with a bleak outlook for the rest of the campaign as relegation stares them in the face. Meanwhile, the victory for the Big Cats sees them improve to 8-8 on the season as they place themselves well in amongst things in the lower half of the playoff race. The Leopards didn't have things all their way in this one however, as the Magic did manage to take the lead early on - but this was short-lived as the Cats rallied and led the rest of the way. The visitors' lead was steady at around the 10 point mark throughout, before a devastating final stanza saw their lead grow as the final scoreline ballooned; unrepresentative of Manchester's hard-fought effort throughout. 

Coach Thomas Baker saw four players reach the double figure mark in this one, as captain Sam Newman kept up his eye-catching run of form with a double-double of 19 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and four steals. US import forward Asante Sandiford matched his skipper's tally with 19 points of his own, also adding six rebounds and five assists. There was a double-double on the inside for big man Lee Hodges who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Darrel Bethune came off the bench to chip in 12 points. Putting one of the youngest squads in Division One on the floor, the Magic were paced by their veterans in this one - lead by 15 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks from US import big man Jonathan Barnes. Ryan Lewis had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Richard Bell added a double-double of 11 points, 10 rebounds and two assists. Andre Gayle matched the big man's output with 11 points of his own, while there was six points off the bench from young guard Luke Gordos. 


 Essex Leopards 93 v 78 Reading Rockets 

Sunday 10 February 2019 - 2.00pm

Live Stats

The Essex Leopards returned home to the Essex Sport Arena in Colchester on Sunday for a matinee game against fellow playoff contenders, the Reading Rockets. High in confidence after their convincing win over Manchester Magic the night prior, the Big Cats got off to a good start and led for much of the first stanza, before falling behind in the final couple of minutes. Coach Thomas Baker quickly righted the ship as the Leopards stormed back to regain the lead, never looking back as they would not relinquish their advantage. A slender eight point lead at the half was less than comfortable for the hosts, but they quickly put an end to any murmurs of a comeback, with an 18-3 run that ballooned the lead out to 25 points. Reading would get the deficit back to 11 points midway through the fourth, but the damage had been done as Essex picked up their ninth win of the season. Improving to a 9-8 record, the Leopards leapfrog the Rockets to take sixth place for now, as the race for the final three playoff spots looks to be heating up.

There was a near triple-double from Asanta Sandiford to pace the Leopards, as the US import wing paced his side with 27 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists - for an eyebrow-raising 40 efficiency rating. Skipper Sam Newman added 16 points and eight assists, while Lee Hodges finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. After a quiet night in Manchester, Findlay Wood came alive with 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists, as Chuck Duru contributed eight points and four rebounds. After a couple of weeks of the Reading performance being the Carr and Pemberton show, the Rockets had multiple contributors in this one - led by Sydney Donaldson. The explosive guard paced his side with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, while JMA prospect Adrian Nosa Castillo came off the bench for 11 points in limited minutes. The Rockets' US imports had their usual impact as AJ Carr finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals, while Trae Pemberton added 11 points, two rebounds and two steals. Tanner Kuehn came off the bench to add 10 points and five rebounds to round out the double figure scorers for Coach Alan Keane's side.


 Barking Abbey Crusaders 76 v 77 Thames Valley Cavaliers 

Sunday 10 February 2019 - 4.00pm

Live Stats

In probably the most exciting climax to an NBL Division One contest this weekend, Sunday afternoon saw the Thames Valley Cavaliers rally from 15 points down in the second half to grab a single point victory on the road at Barking Abbey. Evenly contested early exchanges meant there was very little between the two sides 16 minutes into the game, before a 14-4 run to end the half swung the momentum in the Crusaders' favour. The Barking Abbey lead reached its peak when a Tautvydas Mieliauskas gave the Crusaders a 47-32 advantage, but a 16-2 run by the Cavs cut the deficit and the visitors trailed by just two point heads into the final stanza. Barking would hold a narrow lead for much of the fourth, until a Martelle McLemore triple brought the Cavs back on even terms at 65-65 with five minutes to play.

The Crusaders edged ahead once more, until Abdoulaye Sylla gave Thames Valley their first lead of the second half when his layup gave them a 71-72 advantage with 1:16 remaining. Jonathan Brown responded with a triple to make it 74-72 in Barking's favour, before Sylla again came up clutch around the rim to make it all square. Ade Adebayo looked to have won it with 26 ticks to go when his jump shot went down through the contact from Sylla. Adebayo crucially was unable to convert the and-one, and Walid Mumuni came down the other end and knocked down an and-one of his own, drawing contact from Adebayo. With the score tied at 76-76, Mumuni stepped to the line and converted his and-one, giving the Cavaliers the decisive 76-77 final scoreline. 

Abdoulaye Sylla's clutch play in the final moments mirrored his overall performance, as the forward poured in 30 points, 13 rebounds and four steals. Martelle McLemore finished with 12 points and three assists, while Elliott Defreitas had 10 points and eight rebounds. Aiden Saunders chipped in eight points and seven rebounds, while Prince Lartey contributed seven points, three assists and two steals. 


WNBL Division One

 Team Solent Kestrels 81 v 64 Reading Rockets 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 3.30pm

Live Stats

While the final scoreline might make it look like Team Solent Kestrels cruised to victory against their visiting National Cup finalist opposition, this was far from the case on Saturday afternoon at St Mary's Leisure Centre. The Kestrels held a narrow lead for much of the first half, and took a slim two point advantage into the half-time interval. However, the Rockets came out fighting in the third and led by as many as six points; their first lead since the opening basket of the game. Team Solent got themselves back on the front foot with a 18-6 run that spanned either side of the third quarter break, taking their own six point lead. Maria Angeles Valdeolmillos Gomez knocked down two free throws for the Rockets to cut it to a four point deficit, before the Kestrels unleashed a 17-4 the rest of the way as their lead grew and grew in the final stages. The victory sees the Southampton-based side maintain pressure at the top, with a 9-3 record that is good for third place, while Reading slip to 3-7 on the season. 

Krisztina Velkey had a near triple-double as she led Team Solent with 23 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals. Geena Gomez added 17 points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Kristana Karpova came off the bench to chip in 11 points, two rebounds and two steals. Earleesha Jackson finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists, five steals and two blocks as she stuffed the stat-sheet, while Silvia Cante and Andrea Kurkowski contributed seven points apiece. Captain Maike Delow Fasbender had 12 points, seven rebounds and a block to lead Reading, while Candela Hermida Nunez matched her scoring output with 12 points, two rebounds and six assists. Monica Herranz de Antonio added a double-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Maria Angeles Valdeolmillos Gomez came off the bench to chip in 11 points, three rebounds and two assists. 


 Barking Abbey 42 v 67 Southwark Pride 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 4.00pm

Barking Abbey opened up their double-header weekend with home loss at the hands of cross-capital rivals, Southwark Pride. The hosts struggled on the offensive end to begin the game, with just 15 points in the first half, as Southwark dominated defensively to get the job done. The visitors edged ahead by six points after quarter one, before a 6-20 second stanza saw their lead balloon to 20 points at the half-time interval. The Pride lead grew to 30 points by the end of the third period, before Barking were able to claim the fourth quarter 16-11 as they showed some fight down the stretch.

Southwark were led by a 20 point outing from point guard Megan Haines, who was supported by Esther Oluade's 14 points. Amelia Sandie also chipped in nine points for Coach Jackson Gibbons' side. The low-scoring effort form Barking Abbey was led by nine points apiece from Jolicia Cadogan and Lilly Annim, while Yasmin Charles finished with seven points and Cynthia Adebayo contributed six points. 


 Loughborough Riders 78 v 33 Sevenoaks Suns II 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 4.30pm

Live Stats

Loughborough Riders used an expert defensive performance to complete a rout of Sevenoaks Suns II on Saturday afternoon, as the East Midlands squad improved to 7-4 on the season. The game started out evenly, with the Riders edging ahead to take a four point lead. However, Coach Krumesh Patel and his side came out focused in the second stanza and blew the Suns away with a 30-8 quarter that effectively ended the contest. The defensive effort from Loughborough continued, as they held Sevenoaks to single digits again in both the third and fourth quarters, scoring consistently on the other end as they pulled away for a dominant win.

Niamh Kelshaw led the Riders with 21 points in 17 minutes, shooting 7-10 from the field and adding four rebounds and three assists. Ashida Cooper chipped in 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Hannah Dawson came off the bench for 11 points and six rebounds. Imogen Cook finished with a near double-double of nine points and eight assists, while Rebecca Morrison contributed eight points and five rebounds. Ellie Hutchinson led the low-scoring Suns' effort with eight points, two rebounds and two assists, while Olivia Partridge finished with six points and eight rebounds. 


 Team Birmingham Elite 68 v 67 Ipswich 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.00pm

Live Stats

Team Birmingham Elite came from behind in the fourth quarter to pick up an unlikely victory over WNBL Division One's fourth-placed side; just the second win of this campaign for the West Midlands outfit. Coach Robin Hall's side led early in this one, but Ipswich quickly rallied to lead by four as the first quarter came to an end. The hosts would go on a 10-2 run to regain their advantage as they led by as many as 12 points as the second and third periods went by. A triple from Rebecca Hardwood-Bellis punctuated a 14-0 run for the Suffolk-based side, as the visitors fought all the way back to take a two point lead. With the game finely balanced on a knife edge, two triples from Susannah Rafiu and Hardwood-Bellis gave Ipswich the lead at 53-57 with around eight minutes to play, before Rebecca Brindley responded with two three-pointers of her own as a 10-0 run helped Elite regain a 63-57 lead with five minutes left.

Both sides continued to shoot the lights out over the ensuing couple of minutes, first Hardwood-Bellis nailing another one from deep, before Dawn Hall responded with three points of her own, and finally Charlotte Redhead's triple made it 66-63 to Birmingham with three minutes on the clock. As the game entered the final two minutes, Lucy Buxton sunk a jump shot to make it a 68-63 advantage, before an Esther Little lay-in followed by two free throws from Harriet Welham cut the deficit to just one point at 68-67. A scrappy final minute saw Buxton miss a jumper for Elite, before Ipswich came up empty after a pivotal travel from Welham. Brindley responded with a miscue of her own, Redhead coming up with the steal and finding Hardwood-Bellis with a look at the game-winner which just wouldn't drop for Ipswich.

Jessica Cooper led Birmingham to their upset victory with 13 points and six rebounds, a crucial contribution off the bench. Rebecca Brindley finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Sarah Welborn matched her teammate's output with 12 points to go with three rebounds and two assists. Lucy Buxton chipped in eight points, 12 rebounds and six assists, while Dawn Hall had seven points and five rebounds, including her clutch late triple. The Ipswich tally was led by 17 points apiece from sharp-shooters Rebecca Hardwood-Bellis and Harriet Welham. The former knocked down five triples on the night, adding two rebounds, while the latter chipped in two rebounds and five assists to go with her scoring effort. Danielle Cazey finished with 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, as Esther Little rounded out the double digit scorers with a double-double of 11 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. 


 Team Birmingham Elite 60 v 54 Barking Abbey 

Sunday 10 February 2019 - 2.00pm

It turned out to be an important weekend for Team Birmingham Elite, as a success home double-header saw them triple their season win tally after back-to-back triumphs over Ipswich and Barking Abbey. Full of confidence after their upset victory over Ipswich on Saturday night, the West Midlands' squad headed into this one with a solid chance of picking up another good result; on paper at least. Birmingham edged ahead after the opening exchanges, taking a five point lead into the second stanza. The lead grew marginally to a six point advantage at the half, before an evenly contested second half couldn't separate the sides with the six point cushion ending as the final margin - as Elite improved to 3-10 on the season.

Lucy Humphries led all scorers with a 15 point effort that paced Team Birmingham, as she was supported by 12 points from Lucy Buxton. Jessica Cooper also hit double figures, after pacing her side the night before, as she added 10 points in the Elite victory. Jolicia Cadogan again led her side, a team-high 12 points to her name on this occasion, while Elizabeth Osilaja and Ann Sheaia supported by chipping in 10 points apiece. 


NBL Division Two

 Greenwich Titans 94 v 64 London Greenhouse Pioneers 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 3.00pm

Greenwich Titans grabbed a surprising blowout victory to kick start Saturday's action in NBL Division Two; having spent a long time as the league's basement side, the Titans pulled themselves off the bottom spot as they improved to 3-8 on the season. The Pioneers were once riding high after an undefeated run that spanned the entirety of November and December, but Coach Predrag Krneta's side are yet to rediscover the rhythm that led them on this run. Winless through 2019 so far, this blowout loss at the hands of the Titans is their lowest point of the season thus far, as their recent form has seen them drop out of the top three; they risk losing home court advantage in the playoffs if their tough stretch continues. 

Greenwich opened the game with a strong first period that built a double-digit lead, and they never looked back. Winning the second and fourth quarters by similar margins, the Titans' lead grew and grew, until they ended with a dominant win over one of the league's top sides. Jake Murphy led the Greenwich effort with 22 points, supported by 14 points from Arturo Noha-Pascual and 13 points from Brandon Moncrieffe-Meade. The Pioneers were paced by 15 points apiece from Lisandro Lussenhoff and Mbombo Yegba, while Max Hufschlag added 11 points. 


 Myerscough College 70 v 67 Sussex Bears 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 3.30pm

Myerscough College made it three wins in a row since the turn of the year with a narrow win over Sussex Bears on their home floor. The hosts got off to a strong start, as they led by five after quarter one. Sussex bounced back in the second and third stanzas to lead by one heading into the fourth - setting up a tight contest down the stretch. With five minutes remaining, there was nothing to separate the two sides, before a Callan Low triple gave Myerscough a 60-57 lead. After a Neal Hopkins' timeout, Low hit another three-pointer which gave the hosts a 67-60 advantage with just under three minutes to go, before Myerscough held onto their lead into the final minute at 69-64 when Sussex missed crucial free throws. A triple from the Bears brought things within two points at 69-67 with 2.5 seconds remaining, before Myerscough split two at the line for the final result.

Callan Low's hot shooting down the stretch saw him lead the Myerscough effort with 18 points, supported by 17 points from Amari Williams and 11 points from David Walsh. Cordaris Townes had 18 points of his own to lead the Bears, while Tomas Seduikis chipped in 13 points and Bradley Bennett finished with 12 points. 


 London United 83 v 74 East London All Stars 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 4.00pm

Live Stats

A cross-capital matchup in West London on Saturday afternoon ended with London United grabbing a bounce-back victory, while East London fell to their second straight loss. The early exchanges saw the two sides take turns in holding narrow five point leads, before a 20-7 run in the middle of the second quarter gave United their biggest lead of the first half; the deficit having grown to 13 points. The hosts' double digit lead stood firm in the early stages of the second half, before a sharp 11-2 run by the All Stars cut the gap to just two points. The visitors were unable to maintain this tempo, with United able to pull away and lead by 14 points as the fourth quarter progressed. The closest Coach Dave Greenaway's side could get it down the stretch was a seven point gap, with United generally maintaining their double figure advantage until the final buzzer. 

Modestas Krasauskas came off the bench to lead United with 23 points on 9-15 shooting, adding five rebounds and three assists. Marius Talijunas offered support with a double-double of 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Daniel Szatkowski added 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Dovydas Rudik chipped in 12 points, two rebounds and two assists, while Tomas Butrimas contributed 10 points and five rebounds. The All Stars were led by 24 points and three rebounds from Aaron Badibo, who went three-for-three from behind the arc, while Kyle Gouveia added 18 points and five rebounds. Jonathan James finished with 13 points and two assists, while Brian Nguru chipped in five points and seven assists. 


 London Westside 82 v 86 Liverpool 

Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.15pm

Live Stats

Liverpool maintained their perfect record at the top of NBL Division Two with a less than convincing win over London Westside, as the hosts rallied down the stretch for an almost momentous comeback. The visiting Merseyside squad got off to a hot start as they poured in 27 points in the opening quarter, before doubling down on their early advantage to lead by 15 points at the half-time interval. A sharp run to end the third period saw the Liverpool lead grow to 55-77, and the game looked like it was over as a contest. However, the game was far from over, as London Westside came out determined on the defensive end throughout the fourth stanza - holding the league-leaders to just nine points in the period. The final two and a half minutes saw Westside go on a 10-2 as they cut the lead to four; never quite able to make it a one possession game as Liverpool sneaked away with the spoils.

David Ulph led the visitors on his return to the side with 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks, shooting an efficient 11-12 from the floor. Mark Rangeley provided support with 16 points, two rebounds and three assists, while Kaphell Ulett-Waul finished with 14 points, two rebounds and two assists. Kenny Ogunneye came off the bench to offer 12 points, six rebounds and two steals, while Tyme Regent-Bascombe did some heavy lifting on the boards, pulling down 10 rebounds to go with six points and two assists. London Westside were led by 16 points apiece from Mansour Mbye and Donald Morris, as the former added seven rebounds and four steals, while the latter chipped in six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Levi Edwards had 14 points and two rebounds, while Santiago Leon finished with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. Abiodun Adedo provided a spark off the bench as he contributed 13 points, three rebounds and four steals. 


For full Scores & Schedules for this weekend's action, click the link below: