Week ending October 4th
Surrey Scorchers may be riding an early season high, but head coach Creon Raftopoulos is adamant there is plenty of hard work to come if the franchise wants to make a long-awaited return to the post-season.
Scorchers players, staff and fans revelled in an exhilarating and nail-biting 84-83 home triumph against Manchester Giants and one which demonstrated they can show composure required down the stretch to dig out more wins.
“It’s important for us as a coaching team to learn about individuals and how they respond in pressure moments,” revealed Raftopoulos.
“The two wins we have had have come in similar circumstances and that gives us a lot of confidence.
“The team has a lot of experience going into games where there are going to be tight situations.
“But, the most important part is that we need to get better at is improving our fitness – it’s so important as a team.
“We have guys at different levels because of the time they came into the club.
“Now for us, it’s about getting the level up as a unit.
“Then we can concentrate more on defensive rotations and defensive help.”
He added, “Newcastle and Leicester set the example on defence and we can learn from what they do.
“When we get the fitness levels up, we will start to show it on defence and my style of play will then be evident.”
With Scorchers enjoying their start to the campaign, there was more a sense of relief for Leeds Force and Glasgow Rocks after they both got off the mark with their first successes of the 2015-16 season.
Leeds inflicted a 72-68 loss on Bristol Flyers after some nice work from British rising star Louis Sayers who came up big with 17 points and also a decisive three-pointer in the final minute by Dwayne Camille.
Rocks made the most of having home court advantage at the Emirates Arena to make it a doubly disappointing weekend for Giants, as Sterling Davis and his team collected an 81-71 win – with GB centre Kieron Achara and fellow Brit Will Hall combining for 36 points.
Elsewhere, a rotten 12-year barren run for London Lions continued in the north-east as they suffered their first defeat of the season, going down 92-84 to Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
Meanwhile Cheshire Phoenix are loving life on the road after Jordan Williams sunk a BBL season-high 36 points to help his new side take a third away win, courtesy of a hard fought 97-89 victory at Sheffield Sharks.
Week ending September 30th
It was a good weekend for teams from the north-west as Cheshire Phoenix responded to disappointment in style and Manchester Giants produced a stunning fight-back to remain unbeaten.
The teams met last weekend as Yorick Williams’ side spoiled the Phoenix party by winning the first game at the new Cheshire Oaks Arena.
But John Lavery’s men bounced back from that result to triumph 90-82 on the road at Bristol Flyers.
Phoenix started well before a 14-2 Flyers run gave the hosts the edge during the third quarter.
The visitors were able to find another gear, however, and pulled away as Jordan Williams went for 24 points and David Aliu added 23.
“I knew they would come out strong in the third quarter,” Lavery said.
“We talked about it at half-time but we came out slow and sluggish, they hit us pretty quick and I had to call a time-out in the first minute-and-a-half of the third quarter.
“But we re-grouped after the time-out, put a few different things in place and I was pleased.
“The most pleasing part for me was that against Manchester we had 17 turnovers, which absolutely killed us, and on Saturday we turned the ball over four times.”
It completed a tough weekend for Flyers, who were edged 78-76 by Worcester Wolves on Friday after Pavol Losonsky nailed two late free throws to cap a 29-point, 16-rebound showing.
Giants trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half of their meeting with Plymouth Raiders on Sunday as Dante Williams poured in 20 points for the visitors.
But a 27-4 spell across the third and fourth quarters allowed the hosts to build a five-point advantage of their own before going on to see out a 95-89 win, which sees them improve to 2-0.
Olu Babalola led the way with 23 points for Giants while Ingus Bankevics (20 points) and Stef Gill (19) also came up with key scores down the stretch to extend Raiders’ wait for a first win.
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle are now perfect through their opening three games after enjoying comfortable victories against Surrey Scorchers, 98-65, and Leeds Force, 91-63.
Scott Martin scored 24 points against Scorchers on Friday to pass 1,000 BBL points before Darius Defoe went for 18 against Leeds on Sunday.
Leicester Riders tipped of their BBL Championship campaign with an impressive 88-54 demolition of Wolves.
Without a fixture during opening weekend, Rob Paternostro’s men played two tune-up games in Sweden, and they look to have done the trick as American duo TrayVonn Wright and Neil Watson picked up where they left off last season, combining for 47 points.
Meanwhile London Lions made it two wins from two with a 99-60 triumph against Force, behind an efficient 19 points and nine rebounds from Demond Watt.