Wolves and Phoenix seal last four spots
Worcester Wolves and Cheshire Phoenix completed the line-up for the BBL Trophy semi-finals with contrasting victories over the weekend.
On Friday night Paul James' Wolves shocked a sell-out crowd at Sport Central with a superb 94-88 victory against Newcastle Eagles while the following evening saw Phoenix win 106-61 at Worthing Thunder in a game they led from tip to buzzer
At Newcastle, nothing could separate the teams over the first three quarters but a 7-0 burst gave Wolves a 78-71 lead late in the fourth quarter and they held off Eagles' furious attempts of a fight-back. Newcastle pulled to within one (81-80) but a three from Alex Owumi (pictured) keyed a 9-2 run to reclaim their seven point advantage. Owumi was the main-man for the Wolves, leading all scorers with 34 points.
The following night Phoenix started the game strongly, scoring the first 11 points of the contest and never looking back. Phoenix captain Chez Marks ended the game with 23 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals. Gabe Haskins scored 16 points and also had 9 assists.
Marks was pleased with his side's performance: "We treated Worthing like we do with every other team. Worthing was up for it, they're a great team and they came out and played hard. We had to bounce back from the tough loss to London Lions last night but we knew we had to come out, play hard, play together and now we are in the semi-finals and we have as good of a chance as any of making it to the final."
Phoenix will now face One Health Sharks Sheffield in the semi-finals, while Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders and Worcester Wolves will contest the other semi-final.
Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders moved level with the Newcastle Eagles at the top of the BBL Championship table thanks to a convincing 72-51 victory over the One Health Sharks Sheffield at Sir David Wallace Sports Centre.
21 points from Andrew Sullivan was the leading figure for the home side in the victory, but it was Jay Couisnard's basket that sparked the game breaking 13-2 burst in the third quarter to take the score out to 52-39, and Rob Paternostro's side never looked back.
Glasgow Rocks kept up the pressure on the top four with a comfortable 97-58 victory at Mersey Tigers. Led by 20 points from Donald Robinson the Rocks outscored the home side 29-5 in the third period to pull away from the winless Tigers.
Sterling Davis and his team made it a winning weekend on Sunday thanks to a hard-fought 94-84 victory over the UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders at the Emirates Arena.
24 points from Donald Robinson was the mainstay for the Rocks in the victory, though it was Michael Ojo to lead all scorers in the contest with 30 points for the Raiders. The Rocks lead for the majority of the game, and despite the Raiders getting themselves right back in the contest trimming the gap back to five points at 81-76, but that was as close as the visitors would get as the Rocks held on for the victory.
A dominating second quarter opened up a ten point lead and then a 13-4 burst in the final period sealed the points. Stefan Gill was on fire with 28 points as Giants strengthened their bid for the play-offs.
London Lions won a crucial play-off positions battle as they defeated Cheshire Phoenix 94-83 in the capital. The teams were locked together in the BBL Championship table and on points up to half time before the Lions took over in the third quarter with Tayo Ogedengbe and Adrien Sturt each scoring 20 for the hosts.
The Lions couldn't make it a winning weekend, though, as they went down 89-84 at Durham Wildcats on Sunday. Keith Page led the way for the hosts and the Wildcats lead by as many as 16 points at 80-64 in the final period. But a 17-3 burst from the Lions trimmed the deficit right back to two points at 83-81 but they were not able to get themselves in front as the Wildcats held on for the win to move level with the Cheshire Phoenix and Manchester Giants in ninth position in the table.