Double woe for Riders in a weekend of upsets


A packed weekend of action in the British Basketball League saw upsets galore in both the Championship and Trophy competitions.

On Saturday, Leicester Riders lost for just the second time at home this season when they fell 78-73 to London Lions, who won their first road game in the Championship for over two months.

In a back-and-forth contest, the Riders trailed 75-73 with 45 seconds remaining, but would not score again as the Lions saw out the win from the free-throw line.

"It very much went exactly as I thought it would," said Lions coach Vince Macaulay.

"I thought it was going to be highly-contested and defensive-orientated, but we knew we had to put some points on the board to give us a chance."

Lions' Rod Brown (pictured) had 23 points to lead all scorers.

"I think Rod Brown took the game by the scruff of the neck and Chez Marks just played unbelievable defence on Jay Couisnard," added Macaulay.

"Chez took it on himself to stop Couisnard and Adrien Sturt hit the shots to beat the Riders, with 18 points in 19 minutes."

The other Championship game saw Esh Group Eagles Newcastle and Cheshire Phoenix in a thriller on Tyneside, the Eagles edging it, 103-100, to end Cheshire's six-game winning streak.

Phoenix guard Reggie Middleton had a game-high 39 points, but Eagles were led to victory behind 37 points from Charles Smith.

On Sunday, Cheshire got back to winning ways by handing Leicester Riders an 86-78 defeat in the Trophy, eliminating last season's finalists in the opening round.

Middleton again led the Phoenix, scoring 32 points and taking over the game in the final two minutes as his side saw out the win with a 12-6 run.

Of the four English Basketball League teams in the Trophy, Bristol Academy Flyers had the biggest impact as they stunned Surrey United on Thursday evening, 91-75.

Surrey were on the back foot from the opening tip and although they twice fought back from double-digit deficits to trail by one point, Flyers responded each time.

"It was a great moment for the club and I'm really happy for the players," said delighted Flyers coach Andreas Kapoulas.

"We dealt well with physical play and executed well in key moments. Overall, it was a great result for a very determined group of players."

Surrey's Ceslovas Kucinskas led all scorers with a double-double of 25 points and 14 rebounds, while Bristol were led by Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye's 19 points.

None of the other EBL sides were successful as player-coach Sterling Davis led his Glasgow Rocks to an 84-48 victory at Leeds Carnegie, while Malik Cooke's 28 points helped Esh Group Eagles Newcastle to a 101-73 win at Essex Leopards, who were led by a game-high 31 points from Howard Crawford.

Holders One Health Sharks Sheffield had a tough game at Reading Rockets but were able to come away with an 85-73 win, behind 33 points from Nick Lewis.

The remaining two ties saw Nick George (35 points) led a second half revival as his Plymouth University Raiders won 90-81 over Durham Wildcats after trailing 45-41 at the half, and Manchester Giants enjoyed a 91-74 win over Birmingham Knights, thanks to a game-high 26 points from David Watts.