Another incredible weekend in the British Basketball League has come to an end and it has shaken some things up in the playoff picture.
Starting at the top of the table, however, the Leicester Riders will have to wait another week to be crowned league champions. They edged out Sheffield in a closely contested game Friday night, with a final score of 80-71. The Riders top scorer was Pierre Hampton with 17 points, outpaced by Rambert who scored 21 in the losing effort.
The Riders were denied their celebrations as the Newcastle Eagles beat the Glasgow Rock for the 19th straight time, by a final score of 103-86. The Eagles raced out to a big lead but the Rock gave the Riders fans hope as they clawed the deficit back several times. The lead was down to just 6 points in the third quarter, but hope was quickly extinguished as Newcastle raced out to another big lead to secure the win. Three Eagles players scored over 20 points with Rahmon Fletcher bagging 26. Neil Watson top scored for Glasgow with 19 points.
The London Lions officially clinched postseason play after two excellent wins this week. On Wednesday evening they hosted the Eagles and beat them 93-86 in a spirited game to see them take the season series against them. On Sunday the Lions went to Leeds and dominated for a 100-83 win, with Navid Niktash scoring 26 points and pulling down 8 rebounds. Jermaine Sanders lead the Force in the big three stat columns ending with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
The Bristol Flyer and the Cheshire Phoenix played a two-match series over the weekend. Bristol hosted on Friday night with the return fixture at Cheshire Oaks on Sunday. Bristol took both games to knock Cheshire out of playoff contention and putting themselves in the driving seat for the 8th seed. The score Friday was 91-78, with Aaron Cosby top scoring with 24 points for the Flyers and Earl Brown Jr leading the way for the Nix with 24 points of his own. The score in Cheshire, Sunday, was 83-89 with Hameed Ali draining two free throws in the final moments to secure the victory, and to give himself a team-high 19 points. Earl Brown Jr scored 23 points to once again lead Cheshire in scoring.
The Worcester Wolves win streak is up to 9 games as they edged past the Plymouth Raiders by a final score of 87-93 in Plymouth. Worcester led for most the game, but Plymouth dragged the scoreline back late on. Ultimately, however, the Wolves had enough to get the victory. The Wolves will be looking to extend the streak to ten as they host the Lions on Friday. Corey Dixon led the Raiders with a 26 points and 10 rebounds double-double. Trevor Setty led the Wolves in scoring with 23 points. Jermel Kennedy of the Wolves was one rebound and one assist short of a 12 point triple-double.
The final game of the weekend saw the Sheffield Sharks exercise their loss away to Leicester with a trip across the Pennines to hammer the Manchester Giants 58-92. Rashawn Rembert rode the hot hand again to score 27 points for the Sharks with captain Callum Jones top scoring for the Giants with 17 points and 5 rebounds.
After the weekend, the race for the playoffs is between Surrey and Bristol with London officially qualified and Cheshire eliminated. The Raiders could be in trouble, but they have games in hand and a run of games they could expect 6 points from, which should be enough to qualify them.
Surrey has the toughest run-in, playing against the Eagles, Raiders and Flyers to finish the regular season. All three teams have been in decent form of late, with the Eagles and Flyers recording important wins this weekend.
The Flyers won two potentially tricky fixtures over the weekend and now face the Sharks and Giants, games they will be expecting to take 4 points from. Their away fixture against the Sharks will be a test of character for the Flyers but victory will put all the pressure on the Scorchers to pull off some huge upsets.
Nobody is sure what will happen in a league in which anybody can beat anybody but one thing is for sure, it will be an incredible fight for the final playoff spots.