Eagles keep Play-off hopes alive for Sunday showdown, Sharks confirmed 2nd, Lions & Riders victorious at home

BBL Championship
Newcastle Eagles 93-80 Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks (30-28, 54-40, 82-63)
(Eagles – Gordon 21, Peel 17, Defoe 16; Rocks – Murray 19, Harris 16, Hillsman 15)

BBL Championship
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 91-86 Manchester Giants (13-31, 42-49, 67-70)
(Sharks – Ratinho 25, Nichols 18, Glasgow Jr 16; Giants – Armstrong 21, Clark 17, Anderson 11)

BBL Championship
London Lions 99-62 Cheshire Phoenix (24-17, 48-32, 72-49)
(Lions – Reese 26, Kaboza 20, Kelley 14; Phoenix – Austin 15, Ochereobia 13, Wright 11)

BBL Championship
Leicester Riders 66-63 Plymouth City Patriots (24-25, 48-41, 66-63
(Riders – Washington 20, Walker 17, Whelan 17; Patriots – Simons 22, Williams 20, Graham-Bell 13)

Newcastle Eagles kept their Play-off hopes alive on Friday as they managed to defeat Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks, 93-80, in front of Sky Sports cameras, and Leicester Riders managed to hold off a Plymouth City Patriots victory.

The Eagles entered tonight’s clash with Glasgow knowing that a lost would mean they would not make the Play-offs for the first time in 22 years, so it’s fair to say there was added tension when they took to the floor at the Vertu Motors Arena against an already qualified Glasgow.

Things got off to a competitive start, after Eagles managed to carry a five point lead throughout most of the first period, Glasgow responded with a 5-0 run to put the game level, before Eagles managed to retain the lead, but only by a mere two points at the end of the first period.

It was in the second quarter when the hosts managed to break out ahead of the visiting Scots, as a 10-2 run saw them stretch their lead to double digits by the time the half-time buzzer sounded.

The Eagles increased their lead to a 19 in the third, and as they stretched their lead out to as much as 21 points, with just over six minutes remaining in the final period of the game, things were starting to look very promising for the Eagles. However, a sudden run 11-0 run from the visitors suddenly gave a reality check that this game was far from over yet.

With their lead cut down to just 10, the Eagles began to pile on the pressure, and a pair of layups from Justin Gordon and Brandon Peel saw Eagles retain a 14 point lead, and as Glasgow began to struggle on the offensive, the Eagles managed to keep their lead and pick up a much needed victory to keep their Play-off hopes alive, at least for now.

As the Eagles game wrapped up, all attention turned to the Leicester Riders and Plymouth City Patriots game, as a Plymouth victory over the BBL champions would mean that despite their hard fought home victory, Eagles would still lose out on the final Play-offs spot.

Not in the least bit intimidated by a dominant Leicester Riders season, the Patriots came out guns blazing, taking the lead over the recently crown league champions for the first five minutes of the game. Riders responded in the second period, outscoring the visiting Patriots 24-16 to give themselves a seven point lead heading into half-time.

Eager to confirm their Play-offs spot in their debut season, a determined Patriots side took an 8-0 run in the second period to go from a double-digit trail of 10, to now just trailing the hosts by just two points, eventually managing to hold Riders to just a three point lead at the end of the third period.

With the Eagles game now over, all eyes turned to the final period of the Riders and Patriots game. Despite Riders retaining another double digit lead, the Patriots weren’t prepared to quit and another 7-0 run cut the trial down to just five points with just over two minutes remaining. But Riders managed to respond with a pair of baskets and a free-throw to pump their lead back up to 10 as the game entered the final minute.

A three-pointer from Elvisi Dusha gave hope to a last second comeback from Patriots, but thanks to a triple free-throw conversion from leading scorer Conner Washington, Riders managed to keep their 10-point lead in tact until the final buzzer.

The final Play-offs spot now comes down to the Plymouth v Newcastle game on Sunday. Will the Patriots be able to bag themselves a Play-offs spot in their first season in the BBL, or will Eagles manage to make it 23 years in the Play-offs?

B. Braun Sheffield Sharks confirmed a 2nd place finish in the BBL standings as they came from behind to defeat Manchester Giants 91-86.

Manchester burst out on a 14-0 run in the first period of the game to give themselves a rather cozy 18 point lead against the home side but as the second period commenced, the Sharks managed to respond in offensive force, running out ahead on their own 11-0 run to cut that lead back down to single digits.

After taking a seven point lead into half-time, the Giants did their best to keep ahead but Sheffield continued to chip away at the visitor’s lead , eventually tying the game with just over a minute remaining in the third, before Giants edged a three pointer with 40 seconds remaining to give a mere three point lead heading into the final period.

With five minutes remaining in the final quarter, both teams found themselves tied, but a pair of back-to-back threes from Devante Wallace and Jordan Ratinho, the Sharks suddenly found themselves ahead by six, much to the delight of the rabid home crowd. 

The Giants continued to pile on the pressure, and eventually managed to retain a single digit lead with two minutes remaining but a determined Sheffield side responded and Bennett Koch become the gameday hero, putting up a 6-0 run for the Sharks to give them a five point lead with under 30 seconds to go. The Sheffield fans clenched their teeth as Geno Artison and Will Saunders threw up a collective five point effort but much to the home crowd delight, neither basket managed to drop and Sheffield found themselves confirmed Championship runners-up for the first time since the 2013-14 season

London Lions managed to pick up a big 37-point home victory against Cheshire Phoenix, 99-62, on the backs of top performances from Isaiah Reese, 26 points and seven assists, and Bradley Kaboza, 20 points and five rebounds.

The home side took a 16-point lead going into half-time but the Phoenix came out the locker room confident, and managed to chop the Lions’ lead down to 10.

Lions responded with back-to-back threes from Reese to retain their half-time lead, and thanks to another back-to-back three pointers, this time from Kaboza, the Lions extended to lead to 23 by the end of the third period. Despite the best efforts of the visiting Nix, Lions would run out ahead of them in the fourth and final period, extending their lead to as much as 38, to hand themselves their 15th league win of the season. 

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