It’s the night we’ve all been waiting for as the 2021/22 season got underway on Friday evening with BBL Cup action across the country. Four fantastic fixtures delivered plenty of drama and talking points – let’s take a look at how the night panned out!
The Newcastle Eagles, holders of the BBL Cup after a super season last year for Coach Macleod, will have been brimming with confidence going into this fixture.
The last team standing at the end of May Madness, with a strong summer of recruitment to boot and the rafters packed with fans, coming up against the Glasgow Rocks who had endured a difficult campaign last year … on paper it was set up well for Newcastle to pick up where they left off.
This is why we love basketball, though, because the Rocks hardly put a foot wrong and left the Vertu Motors Arena on Friday night with a huge win to show for their efforts.
A tireless effort from Jordan Johnson, contributing 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 33 minutes of play was the cornerstone of Glasgow’s success, which Elijah Minnie and Boban Jacdonmi complimented excellently with their own efficient contributions.
Duke Shelton was a monster in the middle for the Eagles as he racked up 16 points and 11 rebounds in just 18 minutes of action, and Rahmon Fletcher was his typically irrepressible self as he tried to spark his team into a winning run, but it never materialised and Gareth Murray’s Glasgow were good value for their win.
There have been some absolute thrillers between these two local rivals in recent times, and tonight’s encounter between the Surrey Scorchers and the London Lions certainly added another exciting chapter to the history books as an unbelievable comeback from Vince Macaulay’s side rescued a one-point victory against the odds.
The Lions went into the game with a squad ravaged by player absences due to self-isolations, meaning a young and developing team took to the floor to represent the Pride, but outscoring the home side by 10 in the final quarter saw the visitors pick up a last-gasp win.
Scorchers veterans Tayo Ogedengbe and Martelle Mclemore contributed 43 points between them, as four of the five starters for the home side scored in double digits, but it was the bench production where the Lions had the crucial contribution as Bradley Kaboza netted laced 21 points and collected seven boards to compliment the starting group.
Surrey were without Andrew Lawrence, Rob Gilchrist and Stanley Davis Jr. for this clash, who could return for the outing against the Leicester Riders on Sunday, but could this have been a missed opportunity for the Scorchers to get their BBL Cup campaign off to a perfect start?
Every game tonight was packed with drama, but this fixture between Atiba Lyons’ Sheffield Sharks and Ben Thomas’ Cheshire Phoenix was just incredible to watch, with the visitors coming out on top following a 22-9 fourth quarter.
The Phoenix started very brightly, winning the first quarter 22-11, but lapses in concentration at key moments coupled with excellent offensive execution from the home side saw them trail by six going into halftime.
A relatively relaxed third quarter saw both sides share it 16-apiece, but it was in the final quarter where the Phoenix really found their rhythm as they outscored the Sharks 22-9 to take an important opening BBL Cup victory, before facing the Manchester Giants in a local derby at Ellesmere Port Sports Village on Sunday.
Mike Ochereobia contributed a dominant 18 points and 19 rebounds for the Phoenix, scoring him a dizzying index of 34, which was well complimented by an impressive competitive debut for Great Britain Point Guard Teddy Okereafor who notched 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists – as well as some clutch shooting from the charity stripe – to help lead Cheshire to victory.
Keen to follow the lead of the fixtures that had taken place prior to this clash at the Riders Arena, Leicester Riders and Bristol Flyers did not disappoint as they did battle in the day’s later tip-off in what turned out to be another one-point nail-biter on a brilliant opening night of action!
Coach Andreas Kapoulas had said the Flyers laid some good foundations last week at the Mike Burton Invitational Tournament for success this year, and he surely will have been delighted with their progress on the practice court in the last week as his side never gave up in their battle for victory against the BBL heavyweights, Leicester.
Trejon Jacob led all scorers on the night with an efficient 21 points for the Flyers, but it was Josh Rogers’ performance which will have caught the eye for many as the club captain and stalwart put in a perfect shooting performance to notch 16 points alongside eight rebounds that helped the Flyers grind their way to a fantastic opening win.
Bristol Flyers made it 2 for 2 on the opening weekend of BBL Cup action as they picked up an impressive win against BBL new boys Plymouth City Patriots on Saturday night.
Coming off the back of Friday’s eye-catching win against reiging BBL Champions Leicester Riders, the Flyers picked up where they left off as a huge first half showing proved to be enough to see off the Patriots.
The game tipped off with an electric first quarter as both sides quickly found their groove offensively, with Malcolm Delpeche and Cameron King leading their sides to big first quarter scores.
Bristol then started to take a grip of the game and held the Patriots to only 12 points in the second period as they took a commanding lead into halftime.
The Patriots found their feet again in the third, and led by an impressive showing from Denzel Ubiaro brought the lead back into single digits.
They couldn’t take that momentum into the fourth and final quarter however, and the Flyers held on to take maximum points from the opening weekend of the BBL cup.
Bristol were led by Raphell Thomas-Edwards who posted a double-double of 14 points to go with 12 rebounds, whilst Ubiaro led the Patriots with a game-high 25 points.
The Manchester Giants required overtime to earn the bragging rights over their North-West rivals Cheshire Phoenix on Sunday afternoon in one of the most entertaining ties of the weekend, while Leicester Riders, London Lions and Sheffield Sharks also were triumphant in the other day's BBL Cup games.
Leicester’s Morningside Arena played host to the first game of the afternoon, as the BBL Championship holders welcomed the Surrey Scorchers, but despite Tayo Ogedengbe’s incredible 28-point performance, the Riders took the victory in front of their returning home fans.
Marc Loving came within two rebounds of a double-double after dropping 21 points, and Geno Crandall came within two assists from a double-double – with both players linking up superbly all game and putting on a show for the spectators.
Meanwhile in London, Vince Macaulay’s Lions team put on an excellent offensive performance as they had four players reaching 15+ points, lead by the superb Dirk Williams (19) returning for his second season in the capital.
Denzel Ubiaro did impress for the Patriots however, as he played all 40 minutes and dropped 20 points, while Shawn Shelton put up 17 points and 11 rebounds – but unfortunately for them and the rest of the Plymouth side, the Lions strength in depth proved too much to handle on this occasion.
It was a closer game up in Scotland where Glasgow Rocks were stopped in their tracks by an excellent fourth quarter from the Sheffield Sharks – and a dominating Kipper Nichols performance where he dropped 23 points and crashed the backboard for 10 rebounds.
Marcus Delpeche also excited the crowd with his thunderous dunking ability, but the Rocks’ Jordan Johnson was equally as impressive and exciting to watch as he put up a game-high of 24 points and set his team-mates up for six more buckets – but the home side came up just too short in the end.
Finally, up in Ellesmere Port, the Manchester Giants were inspired to victory by Team GB captain Dan Clark’s 25-point 10-rebound double-double as Cheshire Phoenix were defeated in overtime.
However, there were plenty of positives that the Phoenix will take from the match, particularly as four of their five starters reached double-figures for scoring, as well as former Lions guard Jules Dang-Akodo from the bench.