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High-flying Riders top the table; Big win for Surrey

Leicester Riders are now the only undefeated team in the league after soaring to the top of the table with two wins over the weekend.

Leicester Riders are now the only undefeated team in the league after soaring to the top of the table with two wins over the weekend.

Rob Paternostro’s men ended Newcastle’s perfect start to the season with a 75-63 win at Sport Central in front of the cameras on Friday. Leicester then needed overtime the following day to hold off the challenge of the Cheshire Jets; winning 79-75 at home.

A shock was on the cards in Leicester on Saturday as the visiting Jets threatened to end their opponents unbeaten streak, leading by as many as seven in the final quarter. Having trailed 23-19 after ten minutes, the Riders enjoyed a better second and forged ahead to lead 41-37 at half-time.

However, Cheshire didn’t back down and edged the third quarter to take a slender advantage into the final quarter at 54-52. An 8-0 run put the Jets in control but back-to-back triples from Pavol Losonsky and Zaire Taylor helped to tie the game at 69.

After the visitors moved back ahead, Taylor needed to be on hand in the final minute to tie the game and send it into an additional period. In overtime, Leicester outscored their opponents 10-6 to make it seven successive wins to start the season and top the table.

Cheshire were then denied again the next day as the London Lions snatched an away win at the death with a 12-0 close to win 82-75. Orlan Jackman had a game high 22 points for the visitors while Marks led his side with 21 of his own.

Surrey Heat issued a statement of intent regarding their title challenge with an impressive 95-78 win away to the previously unbeaten Plymouth Raiders. Martelle McLemore led the way with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds while Chavis Holmes provided 10 assists to combine with his 17 points.

The home side made a strong start as they looked to make it four wins in a row to start their season having yet to play away from the Pavillions. A Colin O’Reilly triple in the middle of a 13-4 run helped Plymouth open up an early advantage; leading 23-14 after ten minutes.

The visitors responded in the second and a 9-2 burst reduced their arrears to just two points. The gap remained at two at half-time as Samuel Cricelli scored the last four points of the half as Surrey trailed 37-35. Surrey raised the tempo in the third quarter and turned a 50-43 deficit into a 61-52 lead with a momentous 18-2 tear which included eight points for McLemore.

Heading into the final quarter, Surrey were up by seven but the home side began to close in with an Anthony Rowe basket making it a two point game. The visitors stormed clear with a 13-2 run to take the lead out to 15 only for the Raiders to hit back immediately with a 10-1 response to make it 80-74 with two minutes left.

However, the home comeback charge was halted and Surrey enjoyed a spell of ten unanswered points to effectively seal the win. Frank Holmes finished with his team’s last five points as Creon Raftopoulos’ men earned a deserved victory to improve to a 6-1 mark with a fourth consecutive success. The two teams meet again next week at the Surrey Sports Park where Surrey are undefeated.

Worcester Wolves enjoyed a double-winning weekend which helped them climb into the top four. A second dominant win over the Mersey Tigers in as many weeks was coupled with an 82-66 victory at home to the struggling Sharks. Alex Owumi top scored in both games with 20 points and 23 points respectively.

Mersey showed signs of improvement but suffered their sixth defeat of the season as the Durham Wildcats doubled their win tally with a 91-71 success in front of their home fans. Rudy Etilopy’s game high 27 point haul was in vain for the visitors with Andrew Keister and Keith Page both adding 18 points in their side’s success.

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