BBL: Giants top in North, Sunday wins for Sharks, Phoenix and Riders

All of the positions are now settled following the conclusion of the BBL Cup North Group on Sunday, with Manchester Giants confirmed as finishing top with a 6-2 record after Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks slipped to defeat on the road at B. Braun Sheffield Sharks.

The Sharks finish at 4-4 and reach the quarter-finals as the fourth seed in the North, after completing the double over Glasgow with an 86-73 triumph at Ponds Forge, behind 18 points and seven rebounds from Bennett Koch, and a double-double of 16 points and 11 assists from Aaron Anderson.

Despite starting the game with a scintillating 12-0 opening, Koch scoring the first eight points of the contest, Sheffield were pegged back by their visitors and trailed at the halfway point and by as many as six when Gareth Murray hit a three-pointer early in the third.

But in a game characterised by big runs either way, the decisive one came immediately in response to that, as a Jonathan Williams triple sparked a surge of 14 unanswered points from the hosts, Koch adding six more in that spell before Jordan Ratinho capped it with a transition score for 50-42.

Sharks never trailed thereafter, Ratinho coming up with a number of clutch three-pointers in the fourth quarter as he finished on 13 points and condemned Glasgow to second place.

Sheffield’s win wasn’t enough for them to finish in third though, as Cheshire Phoenix claim that spot following a 99-84 home win over Newcastle Eagles in front of a raucous full house, Namon Wright pouring in 33 points.

Phoenix got to work straight away and raced into a 12-4 lead as Wright scored eight early including a pair of triples that forced an early timeout. The lead reached double-figures early in the second, as another Wright three sparked a 9-2 tear that was concluded by four points from Radwan Bakkali.

And a further 9-1 run saw the half out, yet again initiated by Wright with a step-back trey as he had 19 in the first half and Cheshire led 48-30. A good start after the break gave the hosts a cushion to protect, before the teams traded baskets for much of the second half as Cheshire bounced back from consecutive defeats.

Finally, in the South Group, Leicester Riders are still chasing down top spot and that will be settled when they visit London Lions, after Sunday afternoon saw them make it six wins in a row with an 81-64 defeat of Plymouth City Patriots at Morningside Arena.

Riders trailed early on after a promising start from the winless visitors, but Leicester then hit a 10-0 burst as Marc Loving scored five and he and Mo Walker nailed three-pointers to cap the run and take the lead for good at 10-5.

Typically, it was a defensive display that settled the game as Riders held Plymouth to just one score in the opening eight minutes of the second stanza, opening on an 11-2 run to lead 35-20 as Geno Crandall and Patrick Whelan hit three-pointers and Walker scored six second stanza points.

And there was no way back for the Patriots following a 17-7 start to the third quarter as the lead went through twenty, Whelan scoring seven more and Loving adding a pair of treys. Patriots did give it a go, and got back to within 10 in the fourth quarter, but they are now eliminated from the BBL Cup.

Marc Loving led Leicester’s scoring with 20 points, while Geno Crandall had a double-double of 10 points and 12 assists.

For the second BBL Cup fixture on the bounce, Creon Raftopoulos’ side were involved in an absolute thriller that looked at some stage during the game it might be anything but!

After coming back to push the Leicester Riders all the way last week, eventually just falling short, Surrey Scorchers’ penchant for comebacks will not have been missed by Bristol Flyers play-caller Andreas Kapoulas.

Given the way his side opened the game, Coach K certainly had the right intensity instilled in his roster from the off as they powered to a 12-5 start behind six points from the high-flying Malcolm Delpeche.

The visitors did come back and close the gap to four at the end of the first quarter, but another impressive run – this time 14-5 – saw the Flyers widen the gap to 10 by the end of the second period, with Mike Miller starring for the hosts in the first half on his way to 22 points overall.

The Scorchers well and truly arrived at the party in the second half, however, as they started the third period with a good run that had the hosts calling for a timeout to stop the bleeding early doors, but the visitors’ best basketball was still to come in the fourth quarter, as their lead guard Stanley Davis Jr. really began to find his feet in the game.

With footwork that wouldn’t go amiss on Strictly, the all-round guard danced his way through the defence and to the basket to score at the start of the final period, before a crucial steal and conversion with three minutes to go gave Surrey a lead which they would never relinquish.

Davis Jr finished with 17, but it was an all-round great performance from Surrey in the fourth quarter particularly that helped secure the late victory.

On Friday, there was a mouth-watering clash at Morningside Arena, where Riders handed London Lions a first defeat of the season as Geno Crandall scored 20 points and handed out nine assists in a 93-76 victory.

Riders dominated the second half as, trailing after the break, they hit a 12-2 run midway through the third period in which Patrick Whelan scored five and a Zach Jackson triple put them in front for good at 55-54.

The game was never quite settled until Jackson hammered home a huge dunk inside the last four minutes that put the hosts up double-figures at 81-71 and changed the momentum, in what became a late run of 15 straight points with Marc Loving hitting a pair of three-pointers.

Elsewhere, Glasgow will top the North Group if they win on Sunday, after they also used a late run to overcome Cheshire Phoenix at Emirates Arena, behind a huge double-double of 21 points and 15 assists from Jordan Johnson.

In what was a tight game throughout, with 10 lead changes, the teams were knotted at 85 inside the final four minutes. But the hosts dominated from there as a Johnson triple sparked a 10-2 burst in which he scored five and Gareth Murray added another trey.

Rocks had six players in double-figure scoring, as Jaycee Hillsman also had a double-double of 15 points and 15 rebounds.

And Manchester Giants rounded out their BBL Cup group stage campaign with a dominant 111-73 road win at Newcastle Eagles

Giants had all 12 players get on the scoresheet, led by 20 points in 24 minutes from Martaveous McKnight, with a trio on 14 points including both point guards, Jack Hudson and Tyrik Armstrong, with the latter adding eight assists.

Giants poured in 30 first quarter points, 11 of which came from McKnight, and it was late three-pointers from him and Jordan Whelan that sent the lead into double-figures. Armstrong and Dan Clark then added further triples early in the second stanza, before Armstrong’s ‘and-one’ play followed by his dish for Kingsley Nwagboso sparked an 8-0 burst and a 44-25 lead.

They never looked back from there and led from tip-to-buzzer as they made it three wins in a row in what has become their best start to a season since returning to the BBL in 2012.