Newcastle Eagles defeated the Leicester Riders for the second week running to extend their lead at the top to six points while Plymouth and Guildford picked up important wins.
The BBL Champions had seen their opponents to recover from a 16 point deficit to lead 77-72 but Fab Flournoy’s men finished strongly to record an 87-79 victory. Cameron Rundles led the resistance with 23 points but Joe Chapman led all scorers with a 30 point haul.
And it was the American’s ten first quarter points that gave the home side an early 23-14 lead and a 9-2 burst at the start of the second saw the lead peak at 32-16. Leicester fought back well and the trio of Rundles, Bradd Wierzbicki and Drew Sullivan all found the net from long range to cut their arrears to three at the half time interval, 44-41.
The third quarter was evenly contested to set up a tense finale with the Eagles up by four, 66-62. Consecutive triples from Yorrick Williams gave the Riders a first lead since the opening quarter. Leicester pushed their lead out to five with less than five minutes left before Newcastle showed their class. They prevented their opponents from scoring for over four minutes whilst compiling a pivotal 13-0 run to win the game.
Plymouth Raiders also had to survive a comeback as the Cheshire Jets almost overturned a 15 point deficit heading into the final quarter but fell short; losing 109-105 in front of the television cameras. The home side were in control throughout but a long delay at the end of the third to replace one of the backboards gave Cheshire the impetus to launch a fightback. The visitors closed to within two points but Plymouth kept their composure to close in on second placed, Worcester. Jeremy Bell top scored for the hosts with 31 points as Paul Williams and James Jones also added 20 but Colin O’Reilly’s game high 39 point haul proved to be in vain.
The final game of the night saw Guildford Heat pick up a valuable win at Mersey Tigers to move clear in the race for the play-off spots. The game was tight early on but a dominant second quarter display from the visitors gave them the control and they never looked back, holding on to record an 83-75 success.
Guildford are now only two points behind sixth placed- Sheffield, although the Sharks have a game in hand. Mersey have it all to do if they are to make the play-offs with MK Lions and Guildford beginning to move out of the Tigers’ reach.