BBL: Riders, Lions, Eagles, Raiders book their place in Play-Offs semi-finals

Leicester Riders, London Lions, Newcastle Eagles and Plymouth Raiders all booked their place in the BBL Play-Offs semi-finals last week.

Regular season champions, Riders, went in to the second leg match up with a 29- point advantage, but it would be Flyers who got off to the better start. Following a good offensive first quarter, Flyers were ahead after the first with the score at 21-19.

Riders, however, would kick on in the second. A 30-point quarter started to take the game away from Flyers as they went in to the halftime break 49-41 up. Both sides scored 24 points apiece in the third quarter and Riders added 19 in the last to come out 92-79 winners and book their place in the next round.

William Lee led the scoring for Riders with 17 points while Ben Mockford finished with a game-high 19 points for the visitors.

London Lions beat Cheshire Phoenix 95-60 in a superb display in the day’s second tip-off. Lions went into the game seven points up after winning the first leg 73-66.

Lions got off to a blistering start and scored 30 points in the first and second quarter to lead 60-31. It was a dominant first-half display from Lions, they knocked down 13 three-pointers to blow Phoenix away.

Lions added another 24 and limited Phoenix to just 9 in the third to go in to the last 84-40 up. Phoenix outscored Lions 20-11 in the last to reduce the deficit to 35 at the full-time whistle.

Dirk Williams finished with 17 points for Lions whilst Justin Robinson fell just short of a double double with 13 points and 9 assists. Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored 17 points against his former club as he led the scoring for Phoenix.

The Eagles tipped off first at the University Arena in Worcester and required anything better than a loss by one point to advance into the semi-finals, and the Sharks put the pressure on straight away as they raced into a six point lead at the end of the first quarter.

With just five points separating the teams and three points on aggregate in favour of the Sharks, at the start of the quarter a couple of clutch plays from veteran Mike Tuck where he made a big block before sinking a triple at the other end put Atiba Lyons team’ in the driving seat, but the Eagles responded with Justin Gordon putting in some great work on offence and defence too.

It was Gordon who scored the match deciding points too in dramatic fashion, as he tipped in Rahmon Fletcher’s shot with 0.4 seconds to go, and despite Bennett Koch’s best attempts to try and convert an alley-oop, it was the Eagles who ran out victorious.

Gordon’s 25 points and nine rebounds was one of the best performances of the entire night, but Sharks guard Kipper Nichols is more than worthy of a mention after he dropped 20 points, converting every single shot and free-throw he attempted.

Not long after, it was the Raiders turn to secure qualification to the next round of the play-offs, as they built on their first leg momentum by winning by 15 points, bouncing back from their first quarter woes where Worcester scored six more points.

After that, every quarter was won by Plymouth, who were inspired by a brilliant double-double from captain Ashley Hamilton who dominated the backboards, grabbing 12 rebounds on top of his 14 points, while Ricky McGill was thoroughly impressive, scoring 29 points and contributing six rebounds and seven assists as well as three steals and one block.

Jordan Williams also grabbed a double-double as he usually does for the Wolves, scoring 15 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, but it was Brandon Anderson who had the biggest impact for Worcester on the offensive end, as he scored a team high of 21 points and made a joint team-high of four assists, despite coming off the bench.

The Morningside Arena in Leicester will be the venue for the semi-finals, where the Eagles will face off with the hosts Leicester Riders and Plymouth Raiders will be looking to exact their revenge on London Lions from the BBL Trophy Final.