BBL Cup heats up with busiest week yet

There were three grudge matches in the busiest night of BBL action so far Friday night, as BBL Cup Group 3 was blown wide open with victories for the previously winless Leicester Riders and London Lions; while Plymouth Raiders opened their campaign with a South-West derby win.

Riders bounced back from a home defeat at the hands of Newcastle Eagles by returning the favour, winning 88-82 at the Eagles Community Arena as Geno Crandall hit 20 points, and William Lee did a bit of everything with 10 points – including three emphatic dunks – eight rebounds and five assists.

After a tight game throughout, the game was won when Crandall sparked a 9-2 burst midway through the fourth quarter, establishing a double-figure lead at 85-75 inside the final two minutes.

Elsewhere in that group, London Lions bounced back from consecutive defeats by gaining revenge over B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, winning 88-73 at the Copper Box Arena.

Former NBA star DeAndre Liggins was unstoppable in this one, scoring 32 points on 7-11 shooting from beyond the three-point line as Lions dominated over the first quarter break. They hit a 16-2 surge in which Kevin Ware scored six in a row to establish a 20 point lead that was only once trimmed to single figures.

Finally, in Group 1, the first game played in anger was a South West derby in which Plymouth Raiders prevailed 69-54 over Bristol Flyers. Raiders opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run to lead by double-figures as Elvisi Dusha and Will Neighbour hit consecutive threes, the latter leading their scoring on the night with 18.

Worcester Wolves recorded their first win of the season as they take a one point victory against Surrey Scorchers on Saturday night.

It was Worcester’s first competitive game of the year, and they came out strong in the first quarter thanks to a dominant display from Josh McSwiggan, who had 16 points in the quarter.

Jordan Williams provided a vital double double, with 19 points and 13 rebounds on the night, and Maarten Bouwknecht added eight assists, as he controlled the game from the point guard slot.

It wasn’t a stroll in the park however for Worcester, as the Scorchers fought continuously to stay in the game, thanks to some fantastic play down low from Tayo Ogedengbe and incredible long range shooting by Skyler White.

Five Scorchers players made double digits in the point’s column which will be hugely encouraging for coach Creon Raftopoulos and will hope his side can build on this display.

Leicester Riders and Plymouth Raiders claimed their second consecutive win of the weekend on Sunday, whilst Glasgow Rocks picked up their first.

Following their Friday wins, Leicester handed London Lions their third loss of the season 97-76, and Plymouth picked up their second win at their first home game of the season against Worcester Wolves, 96-60. And in their first game of the BBL Cup, Glasgow commanded a 30-point victory over Cheshire Phoenix, 93-63.

Ashley Hamilton and Will Neighbour were the star men for the Raiders as they helped their side to a comfortable win against the Wolves and to take them top of the BBL Cup Group 2. In the day’s early tip off the Devon based side looked dominant throughout and a 21 point performance from Hamilton with the help of 18 from Neighbour gave the Raiders their biggest win at the Pavilion since October 2016.

Leicester Riders capped off an impressive weekend with a well-deserved win against the London Lions. A double-double performance from William Lee with 18 points and 13 rebounds as well as a superb performance from Conner Washington with 20, condemned the Lions to their third loss of season. The result pushes Riders to joint first place in Group 3, alongside rivals Newcastle.

Glasgow Rocks kicked off their BBL campaign in emphatic style going to straight to the top of Group 2. Julis Van Sauers and Boban Jacdonni both provided double-double performances, but it was Marc Kwedi who was the star man for the Scottish side, going 7-8 from behind the arc and dropping 26 points. The result leaves Cheshire still seeking their first win of the season.