BBL: Rocks and Riders Replicate BBL Cup Success

There were a pair of grudge matches in the BBL Championship on Friday night, replicating last weekend’s BBL Cup quarter-finals, but there was no revenge to be had as Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks and Leicester Riders prevailed again – both in much more convincing fashion – on their home floors.

Having beaten Bristol Flyers in overtime to progress to the BBL Cup semi-finals last week, it was more comfortable for the Rocks live on Sky Sports at the Emirates Arena this time around, running out 99-78 victors behind an efficient 23 points from Ali Fraser and a double-double of 16 points and 12 assists from Jordan Johnson.

Rocks trailed early on, but hit an 11-2 burst midway through the first as Jaycee Hillsman scored five points to take a 20-18 lead that they never relinquished, Hillsman adding another three-pointer before the first quarter was done.

They couldn’t shake off their visitors, who were still within two shots after the break, but Johnson hit a triple before the Rocks finished the third period on an 8-2 tear and then opened the fourth with the first five points, Johnson scoring eight points in three minutes and Fraser making a score for 78-61, and there was no way back for the visitors.

Glasgow also had a big contribution from Boban Jacdonmi off the bench, who had 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in just 16 minutes as they got a first notch in the BBL Championship win column.

Meanwhile, Riders used a sharpshooting fourth quarter to once more overcome Cheshire Phoenix, winning 94-72 at the Morningside Arena with Marc Loving pouring in 32 points on 6-10 (60%) three-point shooting.

With Leicester having just edged past their visitors by one point last week, the teams were rarely separated by more than two shots through the first three quarters of this game in what looked like it would be another tight finish.

But Riders were unstoppable from the three-point line in opening the fourth quarter with an 18-2 surge, all from long-range, as Loving hit four triples in a row in little over three minutes, joined by Conner Washington and Geno Crandall – who finished with 11 points, nine assists and four steals.

Surrey Scorchers captain Tayo Ogedengbe reached 5000 career points in the BBL on Saturday evening, however him and his teammates still ended up on the losing side as red-hot London Lions kept their impressive form with a hard-fought win on the road.

Ogedengbe secured the milestone in the first quarter with a fadeaway jumper, and he eventually ended up with 11 points on the board.

Three Lions players managed to reach 20 or more points for the game, with Isaiah Reece leading the game with 24, and Jordan Williams (21) and Dirk Williams (20) following just behind.

Jordan Williams also managed a double-double after contributing ten rebounds too, as well as adding an impressive six assists and three steals.

Saiquan Jamison also put up a double-double, as the Scorchers forward dropped 14 points and grabbed a game-high of 17 rebounds, while Martelle McLemore also impressed, as he added another 14 points after starting from the bench.

And on Sunday, Kofi Josephs continued his sparkling form for the Plymouth City Patriots by putting up another 27 points for Coach Paul James’ side, but it wasn’t to be for the Devon-based franchise this weekend who are still looking for their first win of the BBL Championship campaign.

On a night where both teams shot the ball incredibly well, this was another highly entertaining outing involving the Patriots this season, following the recent thriller against the Manchester Giants, but it was the Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks who came out on top with all five starters scoring in double figures.

Rocks guard Jordan Harris promised in pre-season to bring showtime basketball to the Emirates Arena, and he perhaps had his best game so far for Gareth Murray’s side tonight as he poured in 21 points to go with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals on the night, but it was Jonny Bunyan who led the way for Glasgow with 24 points, eight assists and four boards.

Three of Plymouth’s starters scored over 20 points, but they needed to as an injury to their explosive star Denzel Ubiaro and Elvisi Dusha being away on international duty with Albania left the Patriots very short-handed.

In the end, their efforts almost threatened to secure Plymouth the win regardless of the lack of bodies, but the Rocks were too composed to be dragged into a dogfight as they led throughout and secured an important victory.

The Cheshire Phoenix have a great record against the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks in recent times, having not lost to Coach Atiba Lyons’ side since 2019, so coming into this game on a six-game losing streak there will have been some quiet optimism amongst the Phoenix camp that fortunes could be about to change.

Ben Thomas’ side played with a freedom and swagger that certainly backed that up in the first quarter, as they stormed to a 16-point lead at the end of the first 10 minutes in front of a packed crowd at Ellesmere Port Sports Village.

New signing Larry Austin Jr. made an instant impact as he scored eight points in three first-quarter minutes to introduce himself to the Phoenix faithful, on his way to 12 in total, but there were strong scoring contributions across the board from Cheshire as four players were in double figures with 10 of their 11-man roster getting on the scoresheet.

The Sharks would never lead on the night, but certainly had their chances to make an impact as they forced Cheshire into 15 turnovers and scored almost a third of their points from those Phoenix errors, but a rough night on the boards for the visitors where they lost out 46-27 overall meant that Sheffield were giving themselves a mountain to climb to pull the game back.

Cheshire never looked back from that brilliant opening quarter, seeing out a comfortable win and snapping their run of defeats in the progress, bringing some optimism to the blue side of the north-west of England.