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All-Star Five: Week 14

After an exciting holiday season with nine games in the BBL Championship, the All-Star 5 is paced by a pair of guards who were instrumental in scoring crucial wins for the bottom two teams, alongside a duo from Cheshire Phoenix who ended 2022 with a big victory in the North West derby.

Javion Hamlet – Newcastle Eagles

American guard Javion Hamlet is the BBL’s leading scorer, and he makes his second appearance in the All-Star 5 after Eagles scored a home win over northernmost rivals Caledonia Gladiators for back-to-back victories in the BBL Championship. Hamlet poured in 34 points and was unstoppable as he got to the free-throw line 15 times and made them all, adding six assists and three rebounds in the game. Eagles trailed for most of the way until a 13-4 run to end the third in which Hamlet handed out three assists, before he scored six points in the last seven minutes, all from the free-throw line.

Padiet Wang – Surrey Scorchers

South Sudan international guard Padiet Wang makes his second showing in the weekly team after Surrey beat Bristol Flyers in their customary New Year’s Day game for a first win in nine and a first home win of the campaign. Wang showed his athleticism and did a bit of everything as he finished with 21 points on 7-9 (77%) interior shooting and 7-8 (87%) at the free-throw line, with nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. The teams were hardly separated by more than two shots throughout, until Surrey put together a 10-3 fourth quarter burst as Wang had six points, three rebounds and two assists down the stretch.

Larry Austin Jr. – Cheshire Phoenix

Also making his second appearance of the season, Cheshire’s American guard Larry Austin Jr. showed he has ice in his veins as the Nix had to hold on to seal a first North West derby win in seven over the Manchester Giants in front of a raucous sell-out crowd. Helping his team through a century, Austin finished on 20 points while shooting 6-9 (66%) from the field and 7-9 (77%) from the line, with five assists, five rebounds and two steals. That included 5-6 free-throws inside the last 20 seconds as Giants attempted to shoot their way to an improbable comeback, with Cheshire’s captain settling the nerves in one of the tensest finishes we have seen all season.

Will Neighbour – Cheshire Phoenix

Leading all scorers in the North West derby, British forward Will Neighbour makes his first All-Star 5 appearance of the campaign after his first half performance looked to have settled the tie early on. Neighbour finished with 21 points on 9-13 (69%) shooting including a perfect 6-6 inside as he showed his full repertoire of hooks and fadeaways, adding six rebounds and two steals. He scored 19 in a sensational first half that saw Phoenix pour in 62 points and establish a big lead, including 10 points for Neighbour in a minute and a half to put the hosts up 20 at one stage.

Kosta Koufos – London Lions

Former NBA veteran Kosta Koufos has started to make his mark as one of the highest profile signings in BBL history, as he makes his second All-Star 5 showing in a row and third overall as Lions beat Plymouth City Patriots for a seventh straight win. In just 19 minutes he posted a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, along with two blocks, including six points and four boards in the opening five minutes as Lions raced into a double-digit lead at the Copper Box Arena and never looked back.

Off the bench: Tajh Green (Manchester Giants), Jeremiah Bailey (Caledonia Gladiators), Antonio Williams (Plymouth City Patriots), Darius Defoe (Newcastle Eagles), Dirk Williams (Manchester Giants), Boban Jacdonmi (Surrey Scorchers), Sa’eed Nelson (B. Braun Sheffield Sharks).