The London Lions moved within six points of the league-leading Leicester Riders with a game in hand, while the Surrey Scorchers kept their playoff hopes alive as the BBL Championship entered the final two weeks of the season.
Elsewhere on Sunday the Plymouth Raiders continued their fine form with their 11th win in the last 12 outings, and the Sheffield Sharks consolidated fifth place.
BBL Championship Results
|Wednesday, April 14||London Lions 87-61 Cheshire Phoenix|
|Plymouth Raiders 106-82 Surrey Scorchers|
|Friday, April 16||London Lions 92-84 Surrey Scorchers|
|Bristol Flyers 91-96 Sheffield Sharks|
|Glasgow Rocks 83-101 Manchester Giants|
|Newcastle Eagles 90-80 Leicester Riders|
|Sunday, April 18||Surrey Scorchers 77-73 Manchester Giants|
|London Lions 85-74 Bristol Flyers|
|Glasgow Rocks 83-85 Newcastle Eagles|
|Sheffield Sharks 91-88 Worcester Wolves|
|Cheshire Phoenix 69-86 Plymouth Raiders|
Lions still in the hunt
The Lions maintained their outside shot at the BBL Championship title with an 85-74 victory over Bristol Flyers at the Copper Box Arena behind 19 points from Dirk Williams to make it eight straight wins.
After Bristol held a narrow lead for much of the first half, Lions established an advantage with a 12-5 opening to the third quarter as Orlando Parker scored six of those points to make it 52-44 before draining a three-pointer to take the lead into double-figures.
A Williams triple ended the third, one from Justin Robinson opened the fourth, and at 69-55, there was no way back for the visitors, with Lions now looking ahead to a crunch tie with the league-leading Leicester Riders on Wednesday.
It rounded off a perfect week for London, who began by ousting the Cheshire Phoenix 87-61 before seeing off the Scorchers 92-84 on Friday. DeAndre Liggins and Williams were instrumental in their side’s victory over the latter as they finished on 33 and 25 points, respectively.
The Flyers’ other game of the week had seen them suffer a 96-91 defeat at the hands of the Sheffield Sharks.
Eagles avoid upset
Just behind the Lions, the fourth-placed Eagles survived a scare at the Emirates Arena to beat bottom-placed Glasgow Rocks 85-83 as Justin Gordon scored five of his 19 points in the final 20 seconds to make it back-to-back wins for Newcastle.
Despite Eagles leading by double-figures in the first half, the game saw 14 lead changes and Rocks looked as though they might take it when Jonny Bunyan hit a three-pointer with a minute and a half to play.
But Gordon tied it with a big ‘and-one’ play with 18 seconds remaining, and then after forcing a turnover on the Rocks with 0.9 seconds left Eagles looked for Gordon once more as he was fouled on a lob from an out-of-bounds play, icing both of his free throws to seal it.
Cortez Edwards led the way for Newcastle with 22 points and seven rebounds, followed by Gordon’s 21 points and Rahmon Fletcher’s 16 points and nine assists. David Mpondo top scored for Glasgow with 15 points.
The victory followed up the Eagles’ 90-80 win over leaders Leicester, during which Gordon had 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists alongside 23 points and nine assists from Fletcher.
Scorchers keep hopes alive
It was also a day of significant implications for the play-off chase and mid-table positioning. Scorchers moved level with Flyers and Manchester Giants on 10 wins after beating the latter 77-73 at Surrey Sports Park to take the head-to-head and make it three straight home wins, with Martelle McLemore scoring 17 points on 7-10 shooting.
Scorchers trailed by as many as nine points in the third quarter, but stormed the fourth period to snatch the victory. A 14-5 opening to the decisive stanza put them up 67-61 as they held their visitors scoreless for more than four minutes, with an ‘and-one’ play from Tayo Ogedengbe sparking a run of nine unanswered points.
From there they kept Giants at arm’s length as they could not get back to within one shot, largely due to some big plays at both ends from Evan Walshe as his three made it 73-66 with one minute to play after a steal.
Surrey finished the weekend in ninth, sitting level on 20 points with eighth-placed Flyers and 10th-placed Giants in the race for a top-eight finish.
Sharks clinch it in OT
In the middle of the table, the day’s most exciting game saw the Sharks prevail through double overtime to beat Worcester Wolves 91-88 on Antwon Lillard’s buzzer-beater, as he led all scorers with 20 points.
Sharks trailed by double-figures in the second half and were down seven with a minute and a half to play when Lamarr Kimble hit a three-pointer. But they finished the game with a 9-2 burst and forced overtime when Kipper Nichols hit his first basket of the game, a triple with 2.7 seconds remaining.
After they trailed for much of the first overtime period it was Nichols again who tied it with a lay-up inside the final 10 seconds, and as the teams slugged it out in the second overtime period Sharks again looked beaten with eight seconds remaining and Kimble on the line with the game tied at 88.
But he missed both of his free-throws before Lillard found himself open and stepped back to nail the game-winning three-pointer and make it three straight home wins for the Sharks.
The win moves Sheffield clear of Worcester and Cheshire Phoenix on 14 wins, breaking the mid-table congestion there.
Jeremy Hemsley posted a game-high 30 points earlier in the week as the Sharks also overcame the Flyers 96-91.
Plymouth continue superb run
Finally, Plymouth Raiders maintained third place in the table after winning 85-69 on the road against Cheshire Phoenix, who were unable to keep pace with Sheffield.
Raiders established a double-digit lead in the second stanza when an emphatic Ashley Hamilton dunk sparked a quick 6-0 tear that was capped by Will Neighbour’s three for 29-18. Then midway through the period they held their hosts scoreless for four and a half minutes as Hamilton and Neighbour added more points, before a Mike Morsell triple capped a run of nine straight at 42-25.
Characteristically, Plymouth’s defense had stifled Cheshire, and that gave them a comfortable second half with the lead peaking at 81-56 in the fourth as Elliott Sentence and Ashley Hamilton hit three-pointers. Hamilton led all scorers on the night as he missed just once on his way to 25 points, shooting 7-8 from the field and 8-8 at the line.
Raiders have won 11 of their last 12 games, while that result leaves Cheshire with six defeats in their last seven.
Plymouth were also victorious on Wednesday, beating the Scorchers 106-82 behind 23 points from Morsell, 20 from Rickey McGill and a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double from Michael Ochereobia.
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