Trailblazers upset Patriots to advance to the Trophy semi-finals; Lions use 18-0 run to turn tables on Phoenix

Plymouth City Patriots 89 vs 99 Derby Trailblazers

(20-31, 20-24, 28-19, 21-25)

Patriots – Dusha 25, Hassan 25, Bell 11; Trailblazers –  Smith 36, Bruggeman 22, Dieterich 15

London Lions 86 vs 65 Cheshire Phoenix

(13-21, 24-17, 14-16, 14-32)

Lions – Nelson 21, Sharma 17, Best 11; Phoenix –  Teague 14, Anderson 10, Ochereobia 10

The final spot in the BBL Trophy went to an NBL side, as the Derby Trailblazers beat the Plymouth City Patriots thanks to 36 point Malcolm Smith.

And in the BBL Championship, the London Lions had a fourth quarter charge to overcome a strong challenge from the Cheshire Phoenix, with Luke Nelson leading the way 

Led by 36 points from Malcolm Smith, the NBL Division 1 side were relentless on the offensive end. The Patriots were forced into a shootout, with Elvisi Dusha and Rashad Hassan scoring 25 points each.

However, it was a third quarter Derby run that created a 15-point margin that was too big to come back from. The Trailblazers shot an excellent 79% from three-point range.

Jonas Dieterich got the first bucket for Derby before Ty Gadsden connected on a three-pointer for the Patriots. He scored nine points in the quarter, on 3/3 shooting. 

Derby built up a six point lead – Ryan Bruggeman hit a triple and Malcolm Smith getting his first score inside.

The match-up of the evening was Smith versus Hassan, two high quality big men that battled in the paint with size and quickness. 

Near the end of the first period Hassan scored on a hook shot inside. Smith responded with a turnaround jumper of his own. Derby built an 11-point lead with Raheem May-Thompson capping off five unanswered points.

Dusha cut the lead back down to six points with a three, then worked in the post, scoring a rare sky hook. 

The Trailblazers continued their momentum and fired back with a triple from May-Thompson to close the quarter.

In the second period, the Trailblazers extended their lead to 15 before Dusha gave his team some hope; scoring on a three-pointer.

Derby shot 55% from three and 85% from the free throw line in the first half and worked the ball around the perimeter to create easy looks in the halfcourt and transition game. 

The teams traded baskets as Smith and Bruggeman carried the Derby offence through the period. It was May-Thompson whose three-pointer gave the away team their largest lead of the game with 15 points.

In the third quarter the Patriots were able to cut the lead down to six points. A 10-2 run was propelled by three pointers from Jules Dang-Akodo and Dusha.

For the visitors, Smith was unstoppable inside and the barrage of three pointers kept the defense from packing the paint. 

May-Thompson snapped the Patriots run with a three-pointer that steered Derby back into control.

Hassan dropped his shoulder and powered to the basket, igniting the home crowd, and Dusha followed up with a triple. 

Derby were able to close the period with a huge three from Dieterich with eight seconds remaining.

In the fourth, Plymouth battled back into the game with Dusha’s three pointer. 

However, the Trailblazers were playing with intensity and control; finding open shooters each time. Simeon Perry got on the scoreboard and Smith was dominant as he had been all game. 

Bruggeman’s 22 points and nine assists was capped off with a pair of free throws as Derby knocked off the BBL side in an impressive 99-89 victory. 

The Trailblazers will now join the Sheffield Sharks, Cheshire Phoenix and Caledonia Gladiators in the BBL Trophy semi-finals.

In BBL Championship action the London Lions used an impressive fourth quarter to beat the Cheshire Phoenix by 21 points at Cheshire Oaks Arena.

The Lions trailed by six near the end of the third, but were spearheaded by point guard Luke Nelson and big man Josh Sharma who led the London-side with an 18-0 run.

Nelson finished the game with 21 points and nine assists on the night, while Sharma finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. 

Kosta Koufus won the tip for the visitors and scored the first bucket for the Lions; throwing up a hook shot inside. 

Luke Nelson then knocked down a pair of two point jumpers followed by a four point play – giving his team a nine point lead. 

Maceo Jack found a little room and hit a pull up for the Phoenix before Koufus took it strong inside again. Cheshire were able to get within a single point before halftime with scores from Amorie Archibald and Michael Ochereobia.

Mo Solauade’s three pointer extended the lead to nine points, followed up by a pair of threes from Nelson that kept the Lions ahead.

Tahjai Teague’s and-one finish in the paint sparked an 8-2 run for the home side – with Archibald hammering home a dunk and Jamell Anderson connecting on a three-pointer.

Ochereobia’s dunk opened the second half for Cheshire and Marcus Evans gave their side their first lead of the game off a pull up jumpshot.

The Lions, unphased by the run, turned to Tomislav Zubčić, who scored on a driving layup. 

Will Neighbour responded from behind the arc and his Cheshire team maintained their four point lead through most of the period.

Eventually the talented Lions side were able to regain control of the game. Soluade tied things up before Aaron Best’s three wrought back the lead with three seconds remaining in the third.

The Phoenix momentum was brought to a firm halt in the fourth – as they failed to score through the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.

Best and Soluade added to their tally with a pair of triples and Nelson found Sharma on three consecutive dunks and the Lions, who were down by six points midway through the third, used an 18-0 run to grasp the ultimately convincing victory.

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