BBL: Lions go joint-top, Sharks and Phoenix win

Sunday saw the first games of 2021 in the BBL Championship, with London Lions ending the only unbeaten record in the league to go joint-top, and wins also B. Braun Sheffield Sharks and Cheshire Phoenix.

Lions visited Leicester Riders in a clash near the summit of the table, and despite leading for much of the game they found themselves behind heading into the final five minutes.

But London scored the last eight points of the game, and held their hosts scoreless for four and a half minutes, with that turnaround epitomised when – inside the final 40 seconds and trailing by five – Dirk Williams came up with two big steals within 10 seconds, both leading to scores.

The game was won when DeAndre Liggins found Orlando Parker to score the baseline jumper with just seconds to play. Lions go joint-top with a 5-1 record, led by 19 points from Williams, as both Liggins and Parker posted double-doubles.

Meanwhile, Sharks stay in the top four with a 4-2 record after coming through a battle with Plymouth Raiders, who were seeking to jump above them in the table, prevailing 83-78 at Ponds Forge.

Sheffield trailed heading into the fourth quarter until they hit a 14-2 surge as Antwon Lillard scored seven points and Jeremy Hemsley capped the run with a triple for a 75-67 lead inside the final four minutes.

That gave Sharks enough to see the game out, as debutant Jordan Ratinho went 4-4 at the free-throw line down the stretch on his way to an impressive 17 points. Lillard led the way overall with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Hemsley finished on 19.

Finally, at the Emirates Arena, Kahron Ross stuffed the stat sheet for Cheshire with 24 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals as they moved into the Play-off spots with a first win in five games, beating Glasgow Rocks 75-64.

Despite a strong defensive start, Cheshire trailed approaching half time until they hit a 12-2 finish which included the final eight points inside a minute, with Ross scoring five and Jalen Hayes making a corner three on the buzzer.

That gave them a 36-27 lead, and they maintained a comfortable margin for the remainder of the second half.

Next up in the BBL Championship, Plymouth host Leicester on Thursday, before a Sky Sports double-header on Friday as Cheshire face Manchester Giants and Glasgow visit Worcester.