BBL: Eagles hand Lions first defeat as Riders stay top

Newcastle Eagles handed London Lions their first Championship loss of the season after an incredible performance on a packed Friday of BBL action that saw Leicester Riders stretch their lead at the top. There were also big wins for Sheffield Sharks and Bristol Sharks.

In a night that saw three of the top four play in these early parts of the season it was the Riders who seized the initiative with a thumping win over Glasgow as the Lions dropped points for the first time this season.

London led the first quarter by as many as 11 points however a strong end to the quarter brough the Eagles to within a score. The introduction of veteran Darius Defoe steadied Newcastle and they carried on their strong offensive showing deep into the second as they took a slender lead into the half.

A nailbiting second half followed with neither side wilting from the tempo, and tempers threatened to spill over after Isaiah Reese was handed an unsportsmanlike for a shove on Defoe. From that point the Eagles seized the initiative and off a pair of Duke Shelton slams pulled away from the Lions for a huge lead.

Rahmon Fletcher posted a career-high 17 assists as he posted a monster double-double with 25 points whilst Defoe added 18 points, Reese led the Lions with 23 points.

After an early dent in the Lions Championship campaign Leicester made it five from five as they overcame a Glasgow side who picked up two big wins last week as they looked to continue their fine start to the season. That made the Riders first half performance all the more impressive as they held the Rocks to only 13 points in the first quarter. Leicester dominated Glasgow in the early proceedings as 16 points from Geno Crandall led them to 65 points in the first half.

With such a sizeable gap going into the second half the Rocks were more competitive in the final 20 minutes, however the damage had been done by a flawless first half Riders performance.

Patrick Whelan led the Riders with 22 points and seven rebounds as Crandall finished with 18 personal.

Sheffield Sharks were looking to continue their steady start to the season against a Plymouth team looking for their first win of the season, and the Sharks started the stronger of the two sides as they held the Patriots to only seven points in the first quarter. The roles were reversed for the second period as it was Plymouth’s turn to lock the doors as they tied the game afer holding the Sharks to only 10 second quarter points.

Both sides continued to struggle to find their rhythm in the offensive end, capped by a final quarter that saw Plymouth muster only six points as the Sharks ran out winners in the end.

Rodney Glasgow Jr posted 16 points for the Sharks as Rowell Graham-Bell posted a game high 17 points for the Patriots.

Looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing result to Glasgow Rocks, the Bristol Flyers came up against a Surrey side who were also looking for their first win of the Championship, and off the back of a monster first half from Malcolm Delpeche, who had 17 first half points, led at the half after a slow start.

Surrey continued to press the Flyers however struggled to replicate their promising first quarter showing in the offensive end, with dominant defensive displays from Bristol in the middle two periods sealing the victory.

Delpeche finished the game with 23 personal points and Trejon Jacob added a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Flyers.

Glasgow Rocks bounced back in style from their defeat to Bristol Flyers on Friday, by putting in a dominating performance over the Surrey Scorchers on Saturday night, which saw the team from Scotland win by 41 points.

Jaycee Hillsman and Jordan Johnson were both on fire and were simply unstoppable at times throughout the game, as they scored a combined 65 points out of the team’s total.

Johnson was also on triple-double watch in the final quarter, but despite a brilliant effort from him, he fell just one assist short after also managing ten rebounds.

Every single player on the Rocks roster who stepped onto the court also contributed a bucket, as Murray Hendry became the final member of the team to get on the scoreboard with a thunderous dunk late into the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, the Scorchers were once again led in scoring by captain Tayo Ogedengbe, who dropped 21 points while Saiquan Jamison put up a season-high of 19, as well as grabbing a game-high of 14 rebounds.

Newcastle Eagles edged Cheshire Phoenix in a remarkable contest that brought three periods of overtime to wrap up an incredible Sunday of British basketball, whilst there were big wins for London Lions and Bristol Flyers.

In an incredible 40 minutes of basketball there was nothing to separate the two Eagles and Phoenix  before Newcastle had the chance to win the ballgame in the form of two free throws from Corey Johnson, however after missing the first Johnson crucially nailed the second to send the game into overtime.

There would need to be another 15 minutes to settle the affair, which nobody in the Cheshire Oaks Arena would have complained about as the Phoenix and Eagles delivered an early contender for the game of the season. Again, the Eagles had the opportunity to clinch the victory before Teddy Okereafor tied the game with four seconds to go in the second period of overtime.

In the third and final period of a breathaking game the Eagles finally started to pull away, with Duke Shelton posting four quick personal points to give the Eagles a foothold in the final crucial minutes as they picked up the win. Rahmon Fletcher was a rebound shy of a triple double as he posted 21 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds.

Shelton led the Eagles with 22 points in a monster performance that saw him rack up 16 rebounds, whilst Michael Ochereobia led all scorers with a double-double of his own with 24 points and 17 rebounds.

After suffering their first loss of the season to the Eagles on Friday, the London Lions wasted no time in getting back to winning ways in another impressive offensive showing against Manchester Giants. After a 32-point first quarter the Lions never looked back as they kept the Giants at bay thanks in part to another stellar showing from Dirk Williams.

London led by as many as 29 points during the ballgame as they ran out comfortable winners at the Copper Box to improve their season record to 3-1.

Williams led all scorers with 30 points on an impressive 11-16 shooting, whilst Dan Clark posted a monster double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Giants.

A tight first period in Bristol was followed by a strong Flyers effort early in the second period as they raced out to a 12-point lead before Kofi Josephs led the Plymouth City Patriots charge with seven personal points to close the gap by the break.

The Flyers really started to turn the screw in the third period and led by Malcolm Delpeche and Marcus Evans pulled further away from the Patriots as they started to dominate their visitors in the paint on their way to a four-point weekend.

Delpeche and Evans posted 17 points apiece for the Flyers whilst Josephs led all scorers with a game-high 24 points as he racked up another impressive performance since his return to the BBL.