There were three road wins in the BBL Championship on Sunday to conclude the penultimate weekend in the regular season.
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle battled back to beat London Lions 93-84 with Charles Smith posting 21 points and 14 rebounds as they joined Leicester Riders on a 28-3 record.
Meanwhile, Bristol Flyers produced an explosive third period on their way to a 78-70 win away at Plymouth University Raiders as Greg Streete netted a 30-point haul.
Also, Sheffield Sharks continued their push for a top-three finish as they defeated Manchester Giants 82-69. Antone Robinson recorded a double-double of 18 points and 10 boards.
London Lions 84 (26,51,75) (Ikhninmwin 14, Watt 13, Lewis/J Williams 11)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 93 (23,44,73) (Smith/Martin 21, Fletcher 17)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle survived a scare before coming back to defeat London Lions 93-84 at the Copper Box Arena.
The Eagles were down 11 late in the first half, but turned on the style in the second half to set up a huge clash with Leicester Riders next week as the title will be decided on the final weekend of the season.
Charles Smith finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds with Scott Martin also netting 21 points, while Rahmon Fletcher dished out nine assists to go with 17 points with all five starters reaching double figures.
The Lions edged ahead in a fast-paced opening quarter and pushed on in the second to establish a double-digit advantage. When Olumide Oyedeji converted a three-point play late in the period, the Lions led by 11 at 51-40.
Newcastle began mounting their fightback with a strong finish to the half and they took the lead early in the third on a three from Joe Chapman in the midst of a 14-4 run. The Lions responded with three triples late on to take a 75-73 advantage into the fourth.
The home side had their last lead at 77-76 as the Eagles went on a 12-1 run to take control and they never looked back. The Lions closed within four with back-to-back three’s but Newcastle held on to improve to 28-3.
Despite the defeat, the Lions have booked their place in the Play-Offs.
Bristol Flyers recovered from an early double-digit deficit to beat South-West rivals Plymouth University Raiders 78-70 on the road.
Greg Streete stepped up for the visitors with 30 points, nine rebounds and four assists to lead his side to the win in the absences of Cardell McFarland and Tyrone Lee.
Despite seeing their own Play-Off ambitions end with yesterday’s loss against Worcester Wolves, the Flyers are still having a say on the battle for the remaining places.
The home side raced out of the blocks with a 14-4 start and looked in command with a 23-11 advantage at the end of the first. However, Streete and Mathias Seilund led the revival for their side as the Flyers battled back to within three at half-time.
Streete fired his side ahead with a three early in the third, only for Daryl Corletto to respond immediately with a three of his own. Doug McLaughlin-Williams then began to heat up for the Flyers with four triples in a pivotal 21-2 spell that opened up a 17-point advantage.
The Raiders made their run in the fourth with seven unanswered points, closing to within as little as five points, but Seilund netted two dagger three’s to seal the victory for the visitors.
The Raiders drop to a 12-19 record – level with Leeds Force – and return to action on Wednesday on the road at Glasgow Rocks with their Play-Off fate still undecided.
Manchester Giants 69 (20,39,54) (Bankevics 19, Larkai 14, Williams 11)
Sheffield Sharks maintained their push for a third placed finish in the BBL Championship after seeing off Manchester Giants 82-69 on the road.
Still without star point guard Jerrold Brooks and Colin Sing, the Sharks benefited from a balanced attack with Antone Robinson leading the way with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The visitors scored the opening seven points of the game in a fast start before the Giants settled and levelled the game midway through the period. Sheffield used a 9-0 run to open up a double-digit advantage in the second with their lead as many as 16.
Manchester continued to battle and halved their deficit going into half-time, and did so again by the end of the third as they managed to cut the gap down to just four points ahead of the final quarter.
It was a two-point game at 58-60, but that was as close as Manchester would get as the visitors pulled away to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat at Leicester Riders as they improve to 19-12 with the win.
Ingus Bankevics top scored with a game-high 19 points for the Giants as they drop to 7-24 in the league ahead of the final weekend.