Gladiators and Scorchers prevail in all-BBL clashes, while Trailblazers become first National League side to advance to next round of BBL Trophy

BBL Trophy
Caledonia Gladiators 97 – 86 Newcastle Eagles (25-22, 22-17, 25-22, 25-25)
(Gladiators – Bailey 31, Tape 17, Sloan 12, Bunyan 12; Eagles – Hamlet 19, D. Johnson 17, Defoe 17)

BBL Trophy
Bristol Flyers 72 – 78 Surrey Scorchers (26-11, 13-27, 13-22, 20-18)
(Flyers – King 15, Bell Iii 13, Delpeche 12, Miller 12; Scorchers – Wang 18, Jacdonmi 18, Taylor 12)

BBL Trophy
Derby Trailblazers 91 – 67 Basketball Wales (30-12, 23-20, 24-16, 14-19)
(Trailblazers – Dieterich 17, Harrison 13, May-Thompson 12, Perry 12; Wales – Koukouravas 17, Farrell 15, Karras 8, Woog 8)

Caledonia Gladiators welcomed the Newcastle Eagles to the Emirates Arena in an all-BBL match-up as part of the BBL Trophy, with the two teams putting on a great show in a high scoring game that ultimately finished 97-86 in favour of the home side.

Jeremiah Bailey led the Gladiators with 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists – followed by Patrick Tape with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Javion Hamlet’s 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, were not enough for the Eagles.

The game started in the most NBA way possible, with both teams splashing threes in the first two possessions, first with Donovan Johnson for Newcastle and then with Bailey for Caledonia.

David Sloan then drained another triple just a minute later, putting his team up 6-3, before scoring from inside the paint and increasing the Gladiators’ lead to 8-3, on the back of an 8-0 run. 

The Scots started on fire from downtown, with Sloan hitting another three, making that 3/3 for his team and 2/2 for him personally and giving the home side a six-point lead (11-5).

Two consecutive long-range jumpers from Jonny Bunyan increased Caledonia’s lead to nine points (17-8), forcing Newcastle coach Marc Steutel into a timeout.

Whatever he told his players worked, as Jermel Kennedy stole the ball, dished it to David Cohn, who went coast to coast and finished hard at the basket for the and-one.

The Eagles scored another and-one with less than a minute to play until the end of the quarter, after Darius Defoe drove to the baseline, went under the basket and dished it to Denzel Ubiaro for the easy two.

The second period started in a much slower pace than the first, with the two defences firmly on top, as the score after the first four minutes was just 2-2.

Things picked up drastically after that though, first with Bailey for the Glads with a fadeaway jumper off the glass and then with Kennedy converting yet another Newcastle and-one play to make the score 29-27.

Two free throws by Defoe tied the score at 29 apiece for the first time since the start of the match with five minutes to go until the half.

Just when it looked like the momentum was swinging in favour of the visitors, Caledonia exploded on an 18-3 run to take a 47-32 lead – while one of their best players, Sloan, was stuck on the bench with three fouls, having played only seven minutes.

First Fraser Malcolm hit a long-range triple increasing the gap to seven points (37-30), before Kyle Jimenez scored an up and under lay-up to make it 41-32 and forcing a Newcastle timeout.

Caledonia’s rhythm was not disturbed, however, with Bailey giving his team their first double-digit lead when he found an open lane and finished with a finger roll (43-32).

Bailey capped off the extraordinary 18-3 run with a pair of free throws, with one minute left to go until the two sides headed to the locker rooms.

Just when it seemed that the Gladiators were going to close out the half firmly on top, Newcastle put on a quick 7-0 run and closed the deficit to single digits (47-39), after Ubiaro’s floater managed to beat the buzzer.

The Eagles started the second half with a purpose, with Johnson scoring a lay-up on the first possession, to cut the deficit even more (47-41).

The Gladiators however managed to make it double-digit game (52-41) once again off the back of a 5-0 run.

That was followed by a Newcastle 8-0 run this time, with a Johnson triple making it a one possession game (52-49).

Although Johnson had done much of the work to bring the visitors within close range of their opponents, it was now time for Javion Hamlet to take over, who with his lay-up gave the Eagles their first lead of the game since the very first possession (54-55) with six minutes to go until the end of the third quarter.

A steal by Tape and a lay-up on the transition by Bailey put the Scots back in the lead, and a 7-0 run was capped off by Bailey’s four-point play to give them a double-digit lead once again (69-59).

The final period started with Malcolm hitting nothing but net on another triple (3/3 for the game) and then getting a block on the defensive end on the very next play.

His teammates fed off this energy and a long-range three by Bunyan gave Caledonia their largest lead of the game (80-63) with six-and-a-half minutes left to play until the final buzzer.

The Eagles weren’t going to just roll over and went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to single digits (84-76) with three minutes to go.

An and-one play by Tape on the next play stopped Newcastle’s momentum and gave the Gladiators a double-digit lead once again, which they held until the end.

With this win, Caledonia booked their spot in the next round where they will face the London Lions who beat D1 side Worthing Thunder last night (January 12).

In the other of the two all-BBL match ups, the Surrey Scorchers travelled west to face off against the Bristol Flyers, coming away with a hard-earned W 72-78.

Padiet Wang and Boban Jacdonmi led the Scorchers with 18 points each, with Vincent ‘VJ’ King finishing as top scorer for the Flyers with 15.

The first quarter saw Bristol storm ahead to an 11-3 lead within three-and-a-half minutes, led by King’s five points and their excellent defence that forced Surrey into some tough shots and turnovers.

The Scorchers however managed to put together a 6-0 run, topped off by a Jacdonmi dunk, that saw them close the gap to two (11-9).

A 10-0 run, this time by the home team, saw the Flyers take their first double-digit lead of the game (21-9), and it was finished off by a Corey Samuels long-range triple.

Another three, this time by Thomas Bell III with just 15 seconds to play until the end of the first period, saw his side take their largest lead of the game and close out the first 10 minutes up 26-11.

While the first quarter was dominated by Bristol, the second was dominated by Surrey.

Before that happened, however, the home side managed to increase their lead to 17 (31-14) – which was their largest lead of the game.

With just under five minutes to play until the two teams headed to the locker rooms, the Flyers were up by a comfortable 15 points (37-22) and looked to be cruising.

The Scorchers were not going to give up without a fight, and went on a brilliant 14-0 run that saw them turn the game on its head and make it a one-point deficit (37-36), when Quincy Taylor laid the ball in.

The second half saw the visitors continue from where they had left off, with Wang hitting a triple on their first possession, giving his team their first lead of the entire game (39-41).

The two teams exchanged buckets for the next few minutes, with the match perfectly balanced as a one-possession Surrey lead until the five-minute mark, when Taylor’s long-range jumper put the Scorchers up by five (45-50).

Ryan Martin then converted from downtown to extend that lead to eight (45-53), which was Surrey’s largest lead of the game so far.

A pair of free throws by Andrew Lawrence at the end of the period saw the Scorchers take a double-digit lead for the first time in the match (49-60), before a Bell III triple closed the gap to 52-60.

With the first three quarters all one-sided – either for one team or the other – the expectation would be that the fourth would be the same.

However, that didn’t happen, with the final 10 minutes being the most balanced of the whole game.

The two sides exchanged a couple of threes on the first two possessions and continued to exchange baskets for the first five minutes, with the lead staying around the 10-point mark (61-70).

A lay-up by Lawrence a couple of minutes later even saw Surrey go up by as many as 14 (61-75) – which signified their largest lead in the whole game.

Despite the Flyers not giving up and going on an 11-3 run to close out the game, they ultimately left it too late and the visitors managed to cap off another big win to continue their 2023 surge.

With this dub the Scorchers will move to the next round where they will face the winners of the tie between Cheshire Phoenix and Nottingham Hoods that will take place on Sunday 15 January.

The last of the night’s matches didn’t feature any BBL sides – Basketball Wales travelled to the Midlands to face off against the Derby Trailblazers, with the home side coming out on top 91-67.

Jonas Dieterich led the Trailblazers with 17 points and seven rebounds, followed by Jase Harrison with 13 points.

Alex Koukouravas with 17 points and Rhys Farrell with 15 were not enough for Wales to secure the W.

The game started with Derby rushing ahead to a double-digit lead within the first four minutes, when Harrison laid the ball in for the easy two (13-3).

In a first quarter that was dominated by the home side – which saw them score a game-high 30 points – the Trailblazers didn’t let their foot off the gas, going up by as many as 15 (23-8), when Eric Donaldson drove to the basket for the lay-up.

A 7-0 run by the home side – capped off by a three by Ryan Bruggeman – saw them take a 20-point lead (30-10) with just over a minute to play until the end of the period.

The second quarter was a much more balanced affair, with Derby only edging it by three points (23-20).

The two sides exchanged baskets throughout, before a long-range effort from downtown by Dieterich saw the D1 side take their largest lead of the game (51-25).

A 7-2 run by the Welsh side saw them head to the locker rooms with a bit of momentum, closing out the half down 53-32.

Even though the visitors cut the gap down to under 20 after scoring the first points of the second half, Derby went on another run – this time 8-0 – to go up by as many as 27 (61-34).

Despite a valiant effort by the visitors, the home side were proving too strong, and another three from Dieterich – who finished 3/7 from behind the arc – saw them take a 30-point lead (71-41), with just over three minutes left until the end of the third.

Wales did not give up, and with tremendous hustle managed to win the final 10 minutes (14-19), saving their best till last.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to see them pull off a huge upset, with Derby progressing to the next round, where they will face off against BBL side Plymouth City Patriots who defeated St Mirren last week (January 7).

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