BBL: Cup Quarter-finals confirmed as group stages end and Championship begins

The full line-up of the BBL Cup Quarter Finals were confirmed Monday whilst the BBL Championship began over the weekend.

B. Braun Sheffield Sharks beat Leicester Riders 87-61 at the Morningside Arena in BBL Cup Group 3 as the full Quarter Finals line-up was confirmed last night.

Sharks were the dominant side from early on and raced in to a 24-14 lead after the first quarter. A double digit lead that Sharks held until the final whistle.

Antwon Lillard was the Sharks standout performer putting up 19 points and contributing 7 assists. Jeremy Hemsley also put in a solid performance with 16 points. Riders star man was Aaron Falzon with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

Riders still qualify to the Quarter Finals finishing second in BBL Cup Group 3, with the Newcastle Eagles topping the group and London Lions qualifying in third place as well.

The Riders will now meet Glasgow Rocks in the Quarter Finals, whilst Newcastle Eagles face Bristol Flyers, Manchester Giants meet Surrey Scorchers and Plymouth Raiders host London Lions.

Meanwhile, the curtain was raised on the new BBL Championship season live on Sky Sports from the Eagles Community Arena on Thursday night, with big wins for the hometown Newcastle Eagles and for the Cheshire Phoenix.

In a clash between two of the early favourites, Newcastle overcame London Lions 88-79 with a huge fourth quarter display, led on the night by a big double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds from American forward Justin Gordon.

In a suitably tight game throughout, neither team led by more than two shots until the final six minutes when two-time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher took over as the Eagles scored 33 fourth quarter points.

Ahead by just three, Fletcher scored all of the points in a 9-2 burst – finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds – hitting a pair of three-pointers and making an ‘and-one’ play for a score of 71-61. That proved insurmountable for the visitors as Evan Maxwell added another nine late points for the Eagles.

In the night’s earlier game, Cheshire bounced back from a winless BBL Cup campaign to open the Championship season with a 93-83 win over B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, using big first and fourth quarters to do it.

Debutant Jimbo Lull – Cheshire’s new seven-foot American – led the way with 27 points, and he set the tone by opening the game, and the new Sky Sports coverage, with a monstrous baseline dunk on his way to 12 first quarter points as Phoenix were up by double-figures early.

Despite that, Cheshire found themselves behind by the fourth quarter, until their other recent acquisition, Mike McCall Jr., sparked a decisive run of 12 unanswered points over four minutes that made the score 84-70 on McCall’s triple as he had nine points in that burst.

Plymouth Raiders defeated the Worcester Wolves 69- 60 and Manchester Giants beat Bristol Flyers 66-59 to start off their 2020-21 BBL Championship campaign with wins on Friday night.

Ashley Hamilton dropped 22 points for Raiders as they cruised past the Wolves at the University of Worcester Arena. Wolves were up at half time however the Raiders picked up their game to secure the win. Chris Porter-Bunton also put in a superb performance supplying 8 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.

For the hosts Josh Mcswiggan was the star man with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Michah Elan also put in a solid performance but his 15 points were not enough for the Wolves who start off the new season with a defeat.

Manchester Giants were trailing all the way up to fourth quarter, but a late resurgence saw them grind out a win at Bristol. In a low scoring game Lyle Hexom put up 19 points with 7 rebounds and Breaon Brady put up a double double performance with 17 points and 12 rebounds to take home all the points for the Giants.

Flyers couldn’t capitalise on their good start to the game an their points were spread evenly across the team. Teddy Okereafor and Eric Lockett put down 11 points a piece with Daniel Edozie providing 10.

The Leicester Riders kickstarted their 2020-21 BBL Championship campaign with an impressive win over the Surrey Scorchers.

The Riders ran out 84-72 winners, but had to withstand a spirited second half Scorchers comeback.

Leicester raced into an 18-point lead at the end of the first half and made that advantage count, with six Riders ending the game in double digits in points scoring.

The Scorchers’ heads never dropped however, and led by Tayo Ogedengbe’s 17 points mounted a second half challenge that saw the Riders lead chopped to single digits. However the Riders, led by Jamell Anderson’s 16 points did enough to secure the opening game victory, capped by an exquisite finish from Geno Crandall.

The Manchester Giants and Plymouth Raiders rose all the way to the top of the league this evening on a super Sunday of basketball in the BBL, while Bristol Flyers and B. Braun Sheffield Sharks also picked up victories.

In an incredibly tight affair, the Newcastle Eagles were beaten by just one point by the Raiders, who once again demonstrated their credentials as contenders for silverware this season, largely thanks to another fantastic performance from Ashley Hamilton – who dropped 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Prince Ibeh impressed on the defensive end – making an impressive three blocks.

The Eagles can be encouraged by solid performances from Rahmon Fletcher, Evan Maxwell and Cortez Edwards, who scored a combined 51 points, and Maxwell might have made a solid claim for player of the day despite being on the losing side, grabbing a huge 19 rebounds and making four blocks and two steals as well.

The Raiders will be joined at the top of the table for the time being by Manchester Giants, after their comfortable 20-point margin victory over familiar opponents Glasgow Rocks – who they faced twice in the BBL Cup.

Three Manchester players scored 20+ points in the game – Lyle Hexom, Breaon Brady and Jordan Whelan, while Allie Fullah made his first appearance in the side, albeit for less than a minute, since his return to the club.

Brady picked up the sole double-double in the game after scoring 20 points and grabbing 16 rebounds – showcasing his dominance in the paint, while his field goal percentage of 64% made him one of the players of the day.

The stand-out player for the Rocks arguably was Isa Brandon, who after coming off the bench made four steals, one block and 15 points which included one triple – despite playing just 25 minutes.

The game of the day, though, came at Cheshire Phoenix, where after trailing throughout the match, the Flyers picked up their first win of the Championship after forcing overtime, thanks to a 0-8 run in the final 80 seconds which included threes from Teddy Okereafor and Zach Copeland.

Both Okereafor and Copeland went 100% from the free throw line, but the most points came from explosive forward Marcus Delpeche, while Eric Lockett was one assist short of the first triple-double of the season.

The Nix were lead in scoring for the second time of the season by new signing Jimbo Lull, who has been in Cheshire for just five days but has already managed to score an incredible 44 points for the franchise, while Pharroh Gordon, Jalen Hayes and Kahron Ross all put up a minimum of 14 points.

There was victory at the final buzzer for the Nix’ opponents on Thursday Sheffield Sharks, who dispatched Surrey Scorchers away with ease, as Antwon Lillard, Jeremy Hensley and Johde Campbell all dropped at least 20 points, while Nicholas Lewis also put up 16 to help them to a blowout win.

The game was Atiba Lyons’ 500th game in charge, making him the youngest coach to reach that number, while also celebrating the third highest scoreline he has won by – cementing his spot in Sheffield Sharks history.

Young Scorchers’ guard Evan Walshe led his team in scoring, despite starting off the bench – and his performance perhaps could give Coach Creon Raftopoulos a selection headache going into the next few games.