Leicester Riders were able to secure second spot for Christmas Day thanks to a dominant display across the second and third quarters at Plymouth Raiders.
The East Midlands side claimed a 91-82 at Plymouth Pavilions on Sunday afternoon, thanks to the hard work and unwavering nerve of Rob Paternostro’s players from the free-throw line that helped bring the Riders back in to contention before the break.
Plymouth were nine points ahead after a competitive showing in the first quarter, however with less than three minutes to go in the second quarter they began giving up fouls that allowed Leicester to claw their way back into the game, and went into the locker room just a point down at half-time.
By the end of the third, Riders had stamped their authority on the game and led by 11, extending their lead to 16 at one stage in the final quarter. As the clock ran down, the home side did tighten up the score, but could not prevent Leicester a third victory against them in less than a month.
MVP Jay Couisnard led all scorers with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but Plymouth’s starting five all put up double digits for points scored on the night. Riders’ Rashad Hassan posted a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Shane Walker claimed 11 points and 14 rebounds for Plymouth.
At the other end of the BBL Championship, Cheshire Phoenix gave themselves a wonderful present of yet another head-to-head against a side battling it out around them.
Leading by ten at half-time over Durham Wildcats, John Lavery’s side held firm to finish out the night 99-88 victors, which is without doubt half a job done in terms of securing a playoff spot come April.
A dominant display in the first two quarters in Newton Aycliffe helped set the tone for the night, but there was credit to be given to the determination of the Wildcats who were within just one point of tying the game midway through the final quarter thanks to Odiba Attah, but Phoenix dug deep to stretch out in the last five minutes.
Phoenix’s Reggie Middleton, Dominique Coleman and Victor Moses led all scorers in the game, with Moses picking up yet another double-double (24 pts, 12rbs) alongside team-mate Donatas Visockis (12pts, 11rbs).
Outside shooting and converting their free throws was key ultimately for Phoenix’s victory, but knowing they have three head-to-heads from the four sides beneath them so far will be a positive to take in to the new year. The hard work is not over, as picking up victories here and there will do no harm to their cause