REVIEW - Leopards pick up back-to-back wins, Liverpool stay perfect

National Cup Finals

The champions of the Men's & Women's National Cups were crowned at the Essex Sport Arena on Sunday, with the first silverware off the season heading to the East Midlands. Loughborough Riders did the double, with both their Men's and Women's teams triumphing in their respective match-ups against Team Solent Kestrels and Reading Rockets. Check out Lucien Cristofis leading the Riders Men to victory here, and find out about Holly Winterburn pacing the Riders Women here.


NBL Division One

 Leicester Warriors 79 v 92 Derby Trailblazers 

Saturday 19 January 2019 - 3.00pm

Live Stats

Turning our attention back to the league action in NBL Division One, the first game of the day saw Leicester Warriors play host to Derby Trailblazers in an all-East Midlands match-up. The Blazers started hot out of the gates, quickly building a double digit lead as they held the hosts the just six points in the first stanza. A sharp run by Leicester to begin the second period cut the deficit to single digits, but Coach Matt Shaw's side regained their composure to hold a 15 point advantage at the half. An evenly contested second half saw the Warriors work hard to again trim the gap to single digits, before the Blazers pulled away again in the closing stages for a routine win down the stretch. Improving to 8-7, Derby regain control of their plight for a playoff spot, while Leicester remain within touching distance of the danger zone at the foot of the table. 

Blazers' star forward Malcolm Smith was unstoppable in this one, as he led all scorers with 29 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks. Newcomer Isa Brandon came off the bench to add 20 points and nine rebounds, while Matt Ward-Hibbert added 12 points. Tre-Shawn Wilford flirted with a triple-double performance as he finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Nearly matching Smith's output for the home side was Raphell Thomas-Edwards who poured in 26 points, while adding 15 rebounds and two blocks. Lamin Willan led the reserves with 18 points off the pine, while Martyn Gayle knocked down three triples to add 11 points and two assists. 


 Team Newcastle 83 v 58 Manchester Magic 

Saturday 19 January 2019 - 3.00pm

Live Stats

A short-handed Manchester Magic squad made the trip up to Tyneside for a crucial encounter with Team Newcastle, as the North West side looked to add to their single win of the season thus far - coming at home against their foes in this one. An evenly contested first stanza saw the scores tied after ten minutes, before Newcastle made a run to end the half that put them ahead by two as the teams headed for the locker rooms. Competitive early on, the Magic effort faded as their short-handed squad struggled to maintain their offensive flow. Having travelled with just eight players, and losing Josh Houghton mid-way through the contest as he picked up two technicals, Manchester ran out of gas towards the end as Newcastle piled on the points in the final stanza. 

Leading the way for the hosts was a 24 point effort from Ben Seipt, who also added six rebounds and four assists. Tosan Evbuomwan and Eric Stafford chipped in 17 points apiece, with the former added nine rebounds and the latter dishing out seven assists. Nikola Urli chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, while Coach Ian Hewitt got a 10 point, 13 rebound double-double from Alei Wol. US big man Jonathan Barnes paced the effort for Simon Fisher's squad, as he finished with 18 points and six rebounds. Joining Barnes in double figures was Ryan Lewis, who contributed 13 points and seven rebounds, despite coughing up seven turnovers. Richard Bell came off the bench for a near double-double of nine points and seven rebounds. 


 Nottingham McDonalds Hoods 90 v 94 Essex Leopards 

Saturday 19 January 2019 - 6.30pm

Live Stats

A high-scoring contest in the East Midlands came right down to the wire, as the travelling Essex Leopards pulled off an unlikely second half comeback to kick off their back-to-back on a good note. The Hoods started off in complete control of the contest, pouring in 35 points as the first quarter got off to a frenetic start. The scoring didn't slow up in the second quarter, as Nottingham pulled away to lead by 19, before a sharp run by the Big Cats just before the half made it an 11 point game. The Hoods were held scoreless for almost four minutes either side of the third and fourth quarter break, which saw the Leopards first cut the lead to single digits, then take their first lead of the game with seven minutes remaining. The lead changed hands several times in the final minutes, before an Andrej Slavik slam put the Hoods ahead 87-84 with five minutes to play. Nine points unanswered from the Leopards was punctuated by a Sam Newman dagger triple, seeing Essex lead 87-93 with just 57 ticks remaining. Delaney Powell answered with a three-pointer of his own, but when David Watts came up empty from deep as Nottingham looked to tie things up, the Hoods had to foul and send captain Newman to the line to ice the contest.

US forward Asante Sandiford had an impressive outing for Coach Thomas Baker, leading the Leopards with 28 points, three rebounds and five assists. Sam Newman finished with 20 points, having knocked down four three-pointers, adding four rebounds and four assists. Big man Lee Hodges had 18 points and four rebounds, while Luke Mascall-Wright had quieter afternoon following his 42 point explosion last weekend, chipping in 12 points and seven rebounds. Cole Welle lead with 31 points for Nottingham in the loss, as the US big man adding 11 rebounds. Delaney Powell contributed 19 points and eight assists, while Andrej Slavik finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. 


 Hemel Storm 79 v 93 Thames Valley Cavaliers 

Saturday 19 January 2019 - 7.00pm

Live Stats

A disappointing result on their home floor against the high-flying Thames Valley Cavaliers saw Hemel Storm pick up another loss as a poor start put them on the back foot in this one. Coming out firing, the Cavaliers poured in 29 points in the first stanza to pull away for a double digit lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the contest. A plucky fightback from the Storm coming out of the half saw them chip away at the lead and cut the advantage to eight points, before a sharp run by the Cavs gave them a 20 point cushion which ended the game as a contest. Thames Valley to 9-4 on the season as they now have sole ownership of the fourth spot in the table, with Coach Robert Banks hoping for the good form to continue as his side now seeks to secure home advantage in the playoffs. 

Pacing the winning effort for the Cavaliers was Abdoulaye Sylla who matched his scoring output from a week ago to pour in 24 points on 12-17 shooting, adding 13 rebounds and two steals. Martelle McLemore was also effective as he chipped in 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Elliott Defreitas and Prince Lartey scored 16 points apiece to round out the double figure scorers, the former pulling down seven rebounds, while the latter had six rebounds and eight assists. Meanwhile, big man Leome Francis had a 25 point, 14 rebound double-double to pace Coach Robert Youngblood's side, as captain Bode Adeluola also added 14 points, two rebounds and three assists. Levi Noel chipped in 12 points, three rebounds and four assists, while Blayne Freckleton struggled with his outside shot to add just 11 points to go with five rebounds. 


 Essex Leopards 91 v 79 Bradford Dragons 

Sunday 20 January 2019 - 4.00pm

Live Stats

Completing their back-to-back and rounding out the NBL Division One weekend schedule, the Essex Leopards made it four consecutive wins as they outlasted the Bradford Dragons at the Brentwood Centre. With their usual venue playing host to an exciting weekend of National Cup Finals, the Leopards fans in Brentwood were treated to an offensive showcase as the Big Cats hit the 90 point mark for the second time in as many days. A low-scoring first quarter saw both sides feeling out the game, before it was the Leopards who struck first with sharp run late in the second quarter to lead by five at the half. The second half was when the hosts found their rhythm on the offensive end, as they poured in 55 points over the final 20 minutes to gradually pull away as the Dragons just couldn't keep up. 

Leading the Leopards in consecutive games was Asante Sandiford who had 20 points to pace the home side, adding seven rebounds and 10 assists for a near triple-double. Luke Mascall-Wright matched Sandiford's output with 20 of his own, to go with three rebounds, four assists and three steals. Captain Sam Newman had an all-round effort of 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Lee Hodges added 16 points and six rebounds down low. Rihards Sulcs keep up his top performances of late as he paced Coach Chris Mellor's side with 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, while Ricky Fetske added 19 points to go with a monster 20 rebounds. Allie Fullah chipped in 17 points and six rebounds, while Andeas Lycoudis rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists. 


NBL Division Two

 London United 79 v 80 Greenwich Titans 

Saturday 19 January 2019 - 4.00pm

Live Stats

The draught is over for the Greenwich Titans, as they doubled their season win tally with an exciting come-from-behind victory against London United. The start to the game saw United jump out to an early lead as the hosts seized control with stifling defense combined with stellar offensive efficiency to lead 28-7 after 10 minutes. The Titans quickly flipped the switch however, pouring in 30 points of their own in the second stanza as they made a sharp run to cut the deficit to just eight points as the teams entered the locker rooms. The visitors entered the second half with renewed confidence, as they continued their run to take their first lead of the contest, ahead by seven points as the game entered the final quarter. With around six minutes to play,

Khalil Afrasyab tied things up at 67-67, before back-to-back scores from Tomas Butrimas and Marius Talijunas gave United a slender lead. The lead changed hands numerous times over the next couple of minutes, before Jake Murphy put Greenwich ahead 76-77 with a crucial triple in the closing stages. Elias Poorman tied things up by splitting a pair at the line, before Talijunas looked to have won it when his lay-up made it 79-77 in favour of the hosts. Murphy tied it up at 79-79 with a lay-in with just 25 seconds to play, which was followed by a game-winning attempt from Daniel Szatkowski which just rimmed out on the next possession. A foul on the rebound saw Poorman send Louis Annan to the line, who split the pair, but that was enough to give Greenwich a vital one point win as they strive for safety in Division Two.

Jake Murphy's late game heroics was just a portion of his exceptional play on the day, as he paced Greenwich with an impressive 36 point performance, while adding nine rebounds. Arturo Noha-Pascual chipped in 17 points and three rebounds, while George Naiwo and Ray Akpofure finished with seven points apiece. Tomas Butrimas lead United with a double-double performance of 19 points and 18 rebounds, while Modestas Krasauskas finished with 16 points off the bench. Marius Talijunas shot an efficient 7-12 en route to 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Dovydas Rudik and Daniel Szatkowski contributed eight points apiece. 


 London Greenhouse Pioneers 79 v 90 Liverpool 

Sunday 20 January 2019 - 1.30pm

Live Stats

A Sunday matinee game saw NBL Division Two's longest winning streaks put on the line at CitySport, as the London Greenhouse Pioneers' seven game streak was put to an end by an all-conquering Liverpool squad which improves to 10-0 on the season. The Pioneers got the best of the opening stages, before Liverpool found their scoring touch to end the first quarter as they pulled away for a nine point advantage. The London side weren't down and out just yet, making a run of their own to tie things up midway through the second period. Liverpool responded and were able to regain their lead, as the visitors edged in front as the teams headed into the locker rooms. With the North West side asking questions, Coach Predrag Krneta's squad found the answers, going on an impressive run which spanned the third and fourth quarters, to lead by three with eight minutes to play. Coach Delme Herriman's battle-tested side did not falter, sticking to the game plan, and found a way to take the lead once more as they pulled away in the closing stages - outscoring the Pioneers 4-15 over the final three minutes. 

After his scoring explosion just before the festive break, Kaphel Ulett-Waul showed out with 27 points, knocking down four triples, while adding three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Mark Rangeley came off the bench to add 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Uche Umekwe and Kenny Ogunneye chipped in 11 points apiece. Max Hufschlag came off the bench for Coach Krneta to lead the Pioneers with 20 points, five rebounds and two assists, while Kyle Diaz paced the starters with 19 points, including four triples. Francesco Rinaldi chipped in 10 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Mbombo Yegba also added 10 points to go with six rebounds.


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