BBL: Lions secure Trophy semi-final date with Rocks

The London Lions qualified for the semi-finals of the BBL Trophy by gaining revenge on Newcastle Eagles tonight, after they beat Vince Macaulay’s team in the BBL Cup Final earlier this year.

MVP candidate DeAndre Liggins put in another dominating performance to inspire his team to victory, scoring 24 points and getting nine assists and six rebounds while knocking down six big three-point shots to get the Lions in the driving seat.

Orlando Parker also had an incredible game, scoring 23 points while going 9-13 from the field, as well as contributing nine rebounds – a joint game-high with Eagles guard Cortez Edwards matching that total.

Justin Robinson put up 16 points and Dirk Williams added 15, while Edwards’ total for the Eagles was 16; a team high which Evan Maxwell came remarkably close to – scoring 14 despite suffering an injury early in the first quarter which kept him side-lined until the third.

Shore Adenekan proved an effective replacement at center, adding 13 points off the bench which included a huge slam in the second quarter, while Louis Sayers scored 12 – with all of his attempts coming from behind the arc.

Lions’ forward Williams arguably made the play of the day and one of the plays of the week in the final thirty seconds to close the game out, getting Eddie Matthew with the fake before dunking on Maxwell with authority to book a date with the Glasgow Rocks in the semis.

Meanwhile in the BBL Championship, Cheshire Phoenix and Leicester Riders both secured away wins in an exciting Sunday of BBL action.

The first game of the day saw B. Braun Sheffield Sharks host Cheshire Phoenix. The game was tight throughout with neither side able to gain a substantial advantage. The game was tied at 19-19 after the first and there was just 1 point in it going into the break. The game had been tied 7 times before the first half ended.

Sharks went into the last quarter with a narrow 3-point lead, but it would be Phoenix that kicked on to win by 10 points. Kahlon Ross led the scoring with a double double of 19 points and 12 rebounds. It was also a special afternoon for Phoenix Captain Jalen Hayes who scored his 1000th point in the British Basketball League, finishing with 14.

For the hosts, Antwon Lillard was the star man with 18 points and 12 points in a double double performance of his own but it would not be enough for his side in a tight encounter. Jordan Rathino also had a good game contributing 15 points and 8 rebounds.

In the second game of the day Leicester Riders visited Manchester Giants and went home 91-77 winners. Much like the first game of the day the first half was very close with the sides unable to be separated. Riders lead by 1 point at half time with the score at 40-41.

Riders pulled away from Giants in the third quarter and went into the final quarter of the game with a healthy 8-point lead. A lead they extended as they comfortably played the game out. Corey Johnson had a game high 24 points for the visitors while the ever-reliable Geno Crandall supplied his team with 21 points and 8 assists.

For Giants, Alex Ouandie led their scoring with 20 points however the Giants would suffer their ninth loss of the season.

On Friday, Surrey Scorchers booked their place in a semi-final tie where they will face the winner of Manchester Giants and Plymouth Raiders thanks to their victory over Team Solent Kestrels this evening, while the Cheshire Phoenix, Manchester Giants and Sheffield Sharks all picked up big wins as the Championship continues to heat up.

The Scorchers opened the evening off, where all eyes were on Cam Hildreth – starting for the first time at Surrey, as well as National Basketball League side Team Solent Kestrels who recently went 50-0 in their league, while the Phoenix tipped off at the same time against an under-pressure London Lions team after the Leicester Riders got another important two points in the week.

At Surrey, the BBL side were in control, utilising their big men to great effect as Ryan Richards dropped 15 points going 7-10 from the field, while Tayo Ogedengbe dropped 11 including a phenomenal mid-court buzzer beater, as well as new forward Lacey James crashing the boards 14 times.

Hildreth put in a typical hard-working performance for his team too, getting 14 points, but it was Kestrels’ forward Orlan Jackman who managed the game high total of 20 points, while also coming closest to a double-double – grabbing nine rebounds, but unfortunately for the Kestrels, it wasn’t enough to help them progress.

Meanwhile in Cheshire, every Phoenix player who scored, scored at least 12 points in the game which tells the story as the Lions were beaten by seven points despite their guard Justin Robinson putting up a game-high of 24 points.

It was Kahron Ross, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Mike McCall Jr and Jalen Hayes who stole the show, however, dropping a combined 75 points with MBA starting off the bench and captain Hayes managing a double-double too, grabbing ten rebounds.

Jimbo Lull was the other player to reach double figures, scoring 12 points in just 20 minutes of action because of an injury scare, but thankfully for the Phoenix, Lull was alright to continue and help control the front court which the Lions struggled to defend at times – ultimately contributing to them falling further away from the league-leaders as the season heads towards the business end.

The Wolves hosted the penultimate game of the night, but will be wanting to get over it as soon as they can after losing by 20 points to the Giants, as the visitors’ new forward Justin Satchell got off to the perfect start, adding 25 points, ten rebounds and six assists despite only joining the day before.

David Ulph also produced a dominant double-double – asserting himself in the paint as he typically does, while Sam Cassell Jr and Alex Ouandie also put in fantastic performances for the visitors who never really let the Wolves get close to them.

The hosts did have Mike Parks Jr and Brandon Anderson on red-hot form, scoring 23 and 20 points respectively with Parks also grabbing 15 rebounds, while Jordan Williams also managed a double-double, but the offence stalled elsewhere on the court and the Giants benefitted off the Wolves 14 turnovers compared to their five.

The final game of the evening saw the Sharks manage an impressive victory away to the out-of-form Newcastle Eagles who were missing Justin Gordon, and the hole in the rotation was visible as the visitors capitalised with Jeremy Hemsley leading the game for scoring with 24 points.

The rest of the Sharks starting five all also dropped double-figures, while Jordan Ratinho managed 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists and Antwon Lillard also contributed heavily on the backboards, grabbing eight rebounds to compliment his 13 points in another brilliant game from him.

Evan Maxwell was the main route of offence for the Eagles, who would wish they would have used him more as he dropped 22 points with a 66% field goal percentage, while Rahmon Fletcher did show flashes of what he is capable of on a number of occasions, laying off eight assists as well as adding 16 points.