Bristol Flyers 86-76 Newcastle Eagles
(19-21, 24-13, 21-22, 22-20)
Flyers – Watson-Gayle 30, King 20, Bell 13; Eagles – Hamlet 23, Gordon 21, Ubiaro and Cohn 7
London Lions 75-63 Sheffield Sharks
(22-23, 23-15, 18-12, 12-13)
Lions – Best 18, Dekker 17, Koufos 14; Sharks – Nichols 19, Ramsey 11, Nelson 10
Cheshire Phoenix 78-74 Manchester Giants
(24-22, 26-18, 14-19, 14-15)
Phoenix – Teague 20, Austin 19, Anderson 11; Giants – Green 18, Lee 17, Williams 13
The Bristol Flyers were led by a huge performance from Jelani Watson-Gayle in their win against the Newcastle Eagles.
The 24 year-old British guard scored 30 points on 75% shooting from three-point range while grabbing eight boards. As if that wasn’t enough, he also dished out 5 assists and had 0 turnovers.
The Flyers, who have been playing infectious basketball this season, rocked Bristol’s SGS College Arena against a resilient Newcastle Eagles side. The visitors stayed in the game till the end through the leadership of the lightning quick point guard Javion Hamlet, who shot 58% inside the three-point arc.
They were bolstered by Justin Gordon who netted 21 points and nine boards for the game.
The Bristol Flyers opened up the first quarter with a 8-0 and Malcolm Delpeche and Thomas Bell III led with early scores. But the Eagles quickly responded.
Ben Mockford knocked down a three-pointer plus the foul near the buzzer of the first quarter, giving the Eagles a one point lead despite missing the free throw.
In the second quarter, VJ King glided to the hoop for two before Gordon responded with an and-one at the other end.
In a series of highlight plays, Bristol’s Bell shook off his defender and hammered home a monstrous one-handed dunk.
However, with Gordan adding six unanswered points, the Eagles battled back. Veteran Darius Defoe helped his team by blowing by his defender and getting the and-one to drop.
Bristol were incredibly active on the boards during the game, grabbing 30 rebounds to the Eagles 18. Five of these came on a scrambled last minute play with the ball bobbling off the rim to close the half.
The Flyers shot with efficiency throughout the game – ultimately going 11 of 27 – compared to the Eagles who made only three from deep for the whole game.
In the third quarter, Watson-Gayle put on a clinic, knocking down 4-4 triples and capping off a 14-point run and giving the Flyers a 15-point lead.
Newcastle responded thanks to Cohn, who drained a three to cut the lead to 10 points before Hasahn French took it down to single digits. Then both teams traded baskets to close the period.
The Eagles were battling but the scoring onslaught was too much from the Flyers. King caught an alley-oop off a Mike Miller dime and Watson-Gayle splashed a couple of floaters to showcase his skills going to the basket.
French caught a really tough finish inside for the Eagles after an offensive rebound. But it was Bristol’s King that hammered home the win with a dunk of his own.
Down in the capital, the London Lions continued their impressive BBL form with a convincing win over the Sheffield Sharks.
The Lions were led by Aaron Best with 18 points, and while the Sharks got 19 points from Kipper Nichols, the team from Yorkshire suffered their second loss of the weekend.
Best and Kosta Koufos utilised a nice two-man game to put pressure on the Sharks defence early to open up an seven-point lead.
However, the Sharks clapped back with a barrage of three pointers from Jordan Ratinho, Nichols and Devearl Ramsey.
Sam Dekker picked up the pace for London with five quick points. But another score from Ramsey gave the Sharks a one-point lead at the end of the first period.
Nichols led the way for the Sharks to open the second quarter, but sensing the need for a run, London turned to Dekker and Koufos again, who scored 10 quick points, and the Lions led by seven going into halftime.
The Lions kept playing at a high pace with Luke Nelson scoring a three pointer and Dekker adding four straight points in the third frame.
Nichols and Best traded three-pointers for their respective teams, as the Sharks looked to signal a turnaround.
However, a 9-0 run put the Lions back in the driving seat, with Dekker leading the charge.
London maintained their lead in the fourth – giving valuable minutes to Jonathan Komagum and Bradley Kaboza, who picked up the scoring. Josh-Ward Hibbert also added a bucket off the bench pushing the lead to 16 points.
Sheffield had a few chances to whittle the lead down but the Sharks missed on a number of critical possessions to close the gap, and the Lions held on for a victory.
In the final game of the weekend, Manchester Giants visited the Cheshire Phoenix in a north-western derby, but the home team managed to secure the victory.
Tahjai Teague led the way for the home side with 20 points and nine rebounds. Meanwhile, Tahj Green did everything he could for the Giants, but his 18 points and 10 rebounds wouldn’t be enough.
Manchester started the game a 9-0 run. Green scored six early points for the visiting side.
Cheshire battled back and Teague hit consecutive threes, with teammate Larry Austin adding a couple of scores from the mid-range.
A pair of three from Jamell Anderson and Will Neighbour gave Cheshire the lead with a minute left in the first quarter.
Austin continued to score well in the second period, adding another four points and pushing the Phoenix lead to six.
Anthony Roberson of the Giants picked up the scoring, while teammate Legend Robertin came up with a huge block to stay close.
But Cheshire were able to find scores from Teague and David Ulph, whose back-to-back dunks riled the crowd.
Within three and half minutes of second half, the Giants had fought back to within two points thanks to William Lee’s six unanswered points.
The Phoenix didn’t panic and responded with a 12-0 run of their own, with Marcus Evans and Neighbour combining on the offensive end.
But Manchester poured in nine unanswered points of their own.
Momentum swung back to Cheshire in the fourth thanks to a 9-0 run, with Anderson giving Cheshire a 14-point cushion. But this game had a few more twists in it.
Down 13 with two minutes remaining, Williams caught fire from deep for Manchester, knocking down three consecutive threes in just over a minute.
The Giants were suddenly right in the game. However, Williams couldn’t connect on the fourth and final shot. Cheshire took the victory at home by four points in a thrilling game.
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