Things are starting to take shape in the BBL Cup group stages, and week four of the All-Star 5 includes three guards making their second appearances of the season, alongside a debut showing for London’s sharpshooter and a return for a familiar face in Glasgow’s homegrown big man. There’s an honourable mention for Corey Johnson off the bench, whose performance points total of 40 in Newcastle’s defeat to Glasgow was the highest of any player so far this season, as he scored 36 points on 6-10 (60%) three-point shooting.
Tyrik Armstrong – Manchester Giants
Armstrong becomes the second Giant to make his second appearance of the season, alongside Dan Clark, as they continue a run of having an All-Star 5 representative every week so far. It will have been particularly pleasing for Manchester fans this week as they comprehensively beat North West rivals Cheshire Phoenix, behind 24 points, eight assists and five rebounds from their point guard. Giants trailed early on, but Armstrong scored to spark a 12-0 run in the second quarter that put them up for good as he had four points, two assists and two steals in that spell; before hitting eight in a row for his team early in the third as the lead went through 20.
Lorenzo Cugini – London Lions
London’s Italian-American forward had one of the BBL’s best three-point shooting performances for a number of years on Sunday, as Lions comprehensively beat Plymouth City Patriots on the road with Cugini starting 4-4 from beyond the arc amid 16 first quarter points as they raced into a double-digit lead from which they never looked back. He finished 9-12 (75%) from long-range – the best percentage on nine or more makes since Scott Martin in 2017 – on his way to a huge 35 points, over one third of his team’s total.
Ali Fraser – Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks
Glasgow beat Newcastle Eagles at Emirates Arena on Sunday, a result that saw themselves and Manchester safely through to the BBL Cup quarter-finals from the North Group. Scottish big man Ali Fraser led the way with a double-double of 23 points, on 10-16 (62%) shooting, and 13 rebounds. Rocks needed a big fourth quarter to turn around a deficit, and Fraser hit a last gasp three-pointer to end the third and help swing the momentum, before scoring his team’s opening two baskets of the fourth and having six points with eight rebounds in that final ten minutes.
Geno Crandall – Leicester Riders
The reigning Molten BBL Player of the Season is another player making a second All-Star 5 appearance, having also featured last week. This time he saw Leicester through a narrow win at Surrey Scorchers, and showed how he can be too hard to handle going to the rim as he drew 11 fouls and shot an amazing 16-18 (88%) at the free-throw line, finishing with a total of 27 points while handing out seven assists. He scored Leicester’s last five points, going perfect from the line in the final two minutes as Surrey came all the way back to make it a one-shot game.
Jonathan Williams – B. Braun Sheffield Sharks
The final guard to make his second weekly showing of the campaign so far is Sheffield’s Jon-Jon Williams, after Sharks comfortably beat Newcastle at Ponds Forge on Friday night. Williams did a bit of everything as he finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and did much of his scoring early in a tight game with eight second stanza points. With the game still close, and Sharks trailing with 12 minutes left, he turned provider as they finished on a 31-9 surge, handing out four assists in that time, adding six points down the stretch including a three-pointer that put Sharks up double-figures and buried the game.
Off the bench: Corey Johnson (Newcastle Eagles), Dirk Williams (London Lions), Stanley Davis Jr. (Surrey Scorchers), Jordan Johnson (Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks), Aaron Anderson (B. Braun Sheffield Sharks), Martaveous McKnight (Manchester Giants), Wesley Person Jr. (Newcastle Eagles)