The league leaders stay perfect after an offensive blitz on BBC Sport.
Sevenoaks Suns 99-57 Cardiff Met Archers (27-21, 52-29, 79-41)
Sevenoaks Suns continued where they left off from 2017 as they continued their unbeaten start in the WBBL Championship to move to 10-0.
Len Busch’s side produced a clinical display in front of the BBC Sport cameras as they eased past Cardiff Met Archers at Surrey Sports Park.
eading scorers – Clark 21, Fritz/Carr 17 (Suns) – Collins 18, Quick 13, Stradling 8 (Archers)
Turning point – The Suns came out on fire, making their first nine shots from inside the arc and racked up 52 points in a dominant first half. There was no let up in the second half as Sevenoaks put up the highest points total this season.
Key stat – Suns dominated the boards and shot above 60% from 2-point range in a clinical offensive display.
Game hero(es) – Ta’Yani Clark made a strong start and finished with a game-high 21 points with Judit Fritz adding 17 against her former side, while Cat Carr also had 17 points to go with 8 assists.
Another five games take place this weekend with ten teams in action on a busy Saturday in the Championship.
Oaklands Wolves play host to Leicester Riders full of confidence having earned their second victory of the season courtesy of a game-winning three at the buzzer, to advance to the quarter-finals of the WBBL Cup.
The home side are arguably enjoying their best stretch of basketball since entering the WBBL and Great Britain youth international Tia Freeman credits the success to a new state of mind.
“We’ve entered this season with an entirely new approach and a clear philosophy on how we want to play.
“Our roster is incredibly versatile and training is extremely competitive. This has undoubtedly helped us compete and play at higher level.
“As a team we want to keep pushing forward – if we play with the principles we’ve set ourselves we can continue to win games.”
A new look squad, only a handful of last year’s roster now suit up for Oaklands. Yet, despite the player overhaul, returnee Lizzie Harrison has witnessed the formation of a strong bond and chemistry over the summer that has translated to improvements on the court.
“Everyone’s bought in to what we’re trying to achieve this season and it reflects in our practice environment and on game days.
“Our aim is to make the playoffs and we are happy with the two early wins, but there’s still a lot of work for us to do. It’s a long season and we’ve yet to play our best basketball – which is exciting.
“We know Leicester can cause problems; they’re an up-tempo team that spread the floor well. We’ll need to be switched on defensively and remain focused for the full 40 minutes if we’re to overcome the Riders.”
Elsewhere, Cardiff Archers welcome the unbeaten Sevenoaks Suns to open the weekend’s proceedings.
Durham Palatinates then host Caledonia Pride still seeking their maiden victory. The side from the North East will have to earn their first win the hard way against a Pride team buoyed by success in the Cup.
At the same time, Molten WBBL Player of the Month Georgia Jones will suit up for Manchester Mystics as BA London Lions visit Lancashire. The road team have the chance to get off the mark against a side that have dropped two of their previous three fixtures.
Team Northumbria conclude the weekend’s schedule at home against the visiting Nottingham Wildcats in what promises to be a spectacular finale. Both sides will be desperate to take victory having somewhat stuttered out of the gates to start the season.
WBBL Fixtures Saturday
Archers v Sevenoaks – 2:00pm
Palatinates v Pride – 3:00pm
Mystics v Lions – 3:00pm
Wolves v Riders – 3:45pm
Northumbria v Wildcats – 4:00pm
Four teams enter the weekend boasting a perfect Championship record but for at least one club their perfect start will come to an end on Saturday afternoon.
Leicester Community Sports Arena will host the weekend’s opening proceedings as Leicester Riders welcome Caledonia Pride, both teams full of confidence having won their only contest of the season.
This time last year there was a distinctly different feeling surrounding the matchup, Riders easing past the then league newcomers by 50 points. But after a strong finish to last season and a statement win to open the 2017-18 campaign, no one is underestimating the danger posed by Caledonia Pride.
“It’s great to see the WBBL becoming more competitive,” declared Riders guard Dee Hayward.
“There are no easy games in this league. A consistent, professional mindset is always required.
“Despite everything we achieved last year, we lacked experience in the big moments. We learnt a lot, however, and by retaining a large portion of the roster we’re definitely in a stronger position this time around.
“We already know each other’s tendencies and how to play together: it feels like we’ve picked up where we left off last season!
“Yet, we know moving forward we have to continue to work hard, remain together and stick to the principles that have worked for us. We can’t take anything for granted,” concluded the Scottish international.
Leicester forward Mollie Campbell is certainly not relying on previous results as an accurate predictor of future success.
“Our first performance of the season was definitely a solid start but we still have a few things that need to be ironed out,” said Campbell.
“The league is a lot stronger this year and our mindset must remain the same for every game, regardless of who we face. We have to play hard and to the best of our abilities week in, week out. If not, we can’t expect to take away a positive result.”
The bulk of the weekend’s fixtures will come tomorrow. Leicester Riders and Caledonia Pride tip off the action, before Sevenoaks Suns travel to Oaklands Wolves hoping to keep their own unbeaten streak alive.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Manchester Mystics will look to return to winning ways against Durham Palantinates as the league newcomers visit the National Basketball Performance Centre.
Finally, Cardiff Met Archers and Nottingham Wildcats will end the day’s basketball in Cardiff at Archers Arena. Both teams will be keen to put in an eye-catching performance having tasted defeat in their last outing.
Sunday sees a change of pace with just one fixture being played. Team Northumbria will host Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters looking to end the road team’s unbeaten run, having themselves suffered overtime heartbreak at the hands of Sevenoaks last weekend.
WBBL Fixtures Saturday
Leicester Riders v Caledonia Pride 1:30pm
Wolves v Suns 3:45pm
Mystics v Palatinates 4:00pm
Archers v Wildcats 4:30pm
WBBL Fixtures Sunday
Northumbria v Hatters 4:00pm
The Betway British Basketball All-Stars Championship will put BBL teams on a global stage with live coverage on networks spanning over 100 countries when it tips off at The O2, London this Sunday, September 24.
The inaugural Championship will be broadcast live throughout on Sky Sports Arena in the UK and Ireland, with coverage in America on Eleven Sports Network.
Betway British Basketball All-Stars Championship Live TV Broadcasters:
Sky Sports (UK)
Kwese Sports (Sub-Saharan Africa)
Viasat (Scandinavia and Baltic States)
Eleven Sports Network (USA)
DAZN (Germany, Austria)
Fox Sports (Australia)
Sky (New Zealand)
Fox Sports (Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Malta)
OSN (Middle East and North Africa)
The British Basketball All-Stars Championship introduces some exciting new innovations as the top eight BBL teams compete for a record-breaking £100,000 prize fund. Matches are just 12 minutes long with a 20-second shot clock while an all-Star 5-point line offers rewards for those willing to brave a shot from distance. Teams will also have a two-minute Power Play at their disposal, during which any pointes will be doubled.
The tournament commences at 1pm (UK time) with a double elimination group stage comprising a total of ten matches, with the subsequent six fixtures determined by the outcome of the first four. Two straight wins will qualify a team for the semi-finals while two straight defeats will spell elimination. The ﬁnal set of matches in the group will feature teams with one win and one defeat competing to stay in the competition. Fixtures for the semi-finals will be drawn shortly after the conclusion of the group stage.
Tickets for the British Basketball All-Stars Championship are available now from www.theo2.co.ukand start from just £20 with group tickets available priced from £60 for four adults. A 20% discount is offered for group bookings of 20+. VIP Courtside tickets are available for £150 via www.allstarsbasketball.co.uk
It’s been an astonishing and record-breaking season for Sevenoaks Suns, so even if their Play-Off dreams had faded in Leicester yesterday, they would have still had plenty of positives to take away into the summer.
However, Len Busch and his players did the business with a gutsy 56-53 comeback win against Riders, to write yet more history by booking their first-ever Play-Off Final appearance.
“When Leicester came out firing like the way that they did, it felt like getting punched in the head,” mused the Ed Percival Molten WBBL Coach of the Year.
“We were struggling so much that we really couldn’t buy a basket, but I have to pay tribute to the girls as they stayed calm.
“We then rebounded better and I think we realised we had not played anywhere near our best and yet we were still in the game.
“So, we just kept chipping away and Gabby [Nikitinaite] hit a couple of big shots in the fourth to get our noses in front and we managed to keep them there.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to play Leicester again as they are very tough and I am just so proud of how my girls kept their composure,” continued Busch.
“Having gone through the experience of a big Final in Glasgow, I think it will be important the players have the sense of the night before, the morning of the game, the build-up and of course the atmosphere.
“But we have nothing to be afraid of at all and we can just continue to enjoy a magical season, because it isn’t lost on me that we can make back-to-back Finals and then might not get another one for years to come.
“I just hope it’s a great game and another nice advert for the WBBL and the women’s game.”
Suns will match-up with Nottingham Wildcats in the showpiece finale to the 2016-17 season after they reached their third consecutive WBBL Play-Off Final after outlasting inaugural winners, Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters.
It was a tense encounter as the hosts squandered a 14-point lead before recovering with a late flourish to register a 70-64 success behind 24 points from point guard Joana Ferreira and a big double-double of 16 points and 15 boards from Ashley Harris.
Full story and Videos – http://wbbl.org.uk/the-wrap-51/
Source of Images – http://wbbl.org.uk/
Rising star Gabby Nikitinaite has been voted the Molten WBBL Young Player of the Year for 2016-17 after posting a brilliant season with Sevenoaks Suns.
In polling by WBBL clubs/coaches, they recognised it’s been a magnificent year for the Great Britain youth star, whose upturn in form and influence helped Suns to deliver their first-ever piece of WBBL silverware after they landed the WBBL Trophy last month.
Sevenoaks also secured their highest ever placing in the WBBL Championship after taking third spot – helped significantly by 14.2 points per game from Nikitinaite who converted a stellar 55% from the field. The versatile 18-year-old has also harvested an eye-catching 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Nikitinaite fought off stiff competition from her fellow GB young guns Savannah Wilkinson of Barking Abbey Crusaders and Kyla Nelson of Oaklands Wolves, in a tight race for the gong – the closest in the history of the award.
Back-to-back. Nottingham Wildcats are WBBL league champions for the second year running.
Dave Greenaway’s side sealed the title with a 57-52 triumph at home to Team Northumbria to improve to a 14-3 record ahead of their final game.
“I’m very proud of the players and the resiliency they’ve displayed throughout the season,” declared the Wildcats’ play-caller.
“I’m also pleased for the club as winning back-to-back titles is a great accomplishment especially with the league been so competitive.
“It was not one of our best performances but we showed championship pedigree in winning a game when we were below par.
“We shall enjoy and celebrate winning the league but we’ll back to the grit and grind of practice to prepare for the playoff push.”
Ashley Harris racked up a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds in the title-clinching win and was delighted to help the Wildcats defend their Championship.
“It feels great to win another Championship, back-to-back,” she enthused.
“I think it’s so awesome being here on a team and in an environment that makes you appreciate what everyone does.
“Finding a home away from home is great and I love playing for this team.
“To be able to win the Championship on our home floor this year with the great support we had was awesome.”
Meanwhile, the battle for the final spot in the Play-Offs will go down to the final weekend after Caledonia Pride and Cardiff Met Archers both recorded important wins to stay level at 5-12.
Pride defeated Manchester Mystics 72-59 for yet another home success as they dominated the fourth with Natalie Bastian leading the way with a game-high 20 points.
Cardiff overcame Oaklands Wolves 70-75 on the road with Judit Fritz pouring in 30 points, while Sarah Wagstaff added 20 as the visitors held on.
Elsewhere, Northumbria bounced back from Saturday’s loss against the champions with a 68-65 win at home to Barking Abbey Crusaders. Alison Gorrell starred with an impressive 38 points.
It marked a second loss on the weekend for BA as they were also beaten 54-69 by Sevenoaks Suns with 21 points coming from Anne Pedersen in the win.
Leicester Riders have sole possession of second spot after they secured a convincing 93-67 victory over Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters, led by Alex Smith’s 21 points and 13 assists.
Source – http://wbbl.org.uk/the-wrap-48/
DBL Sharks Sheffield v Glasgow Rocks (BBL Championship) 7.30pm
BBL fans will get a taste of that Play-Off intensity when DBL Sharks Sheffield and Glasgow Rocks meet in front of the BBC Sport cameras on Friday.
Third host fourth in this huge contest at EIS Sheffield, which decides the season head-to-head tie-breaker between the teams, who are separated by just two points in the standings.
Atiba Lyons’ men come into this game on a positive note having fought back in impressive fashion to see of Surrey Scorchers last weekend, following up victory against Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
Rocks have dropped five in a row, one of those against Friday’s opposition, but a win in this one would surely set them back on track at just the right time.
Sharks forward Mike Tuck: “We had a good match against them last time and we want to keep doing more of the same. They have been on a bit of a bad run but we cannot overlook their talent and consistent performers like Kieron Achara. We are taking them very seriously.
“We have to win the tie-breaker with Rocks, especially when we are this close in the standings.
“It has been a long season and at this point it is almost all mental. For us, all this year has almost been like survival of the fittest.”
BBL commentator Daniel Routledge: “The winner of this game doesn’t technically secure third place in the BBL Championship, but it will go a long way towards it for sure. Whoever takes the game not only takes the win and moves the other on to 11 defeats, but also secures the head-to-head tie-breaker come the end of the season.
“With five and six games left for them, that means the loser is hoping the other team drops two more games than they do, that’s a tough ask in half a dozen games. I had a look at their schedules and there isn’t much between them, but where the Rocks do have the edge is four of their last five after this are at home, whereas Sheffield are on the road for four of their last six.
“Sheffield head into the game in the better form with four wins in the last six compared to Glasgow’s one and I was hugely impressive with how they defended in the fourth quarter at Surrey last week to turn that game around. Glasgow I thought played well at Leicester, given they were a bit short-handed, but it is the time of year where results are paramount.
“Hard to believe it’s almost April already, but a game like this should whet the appetite for the Play-Offs to come.”
* This will be Sterling Davis’ 400th BBL game as a coach
* Both teams have won five of their last 10 meetings
* Rocks (76.35) and Sharks (77.81) are ranked second and third respectively for the least points conceded per-game
It’s a tremendous WBBL battle before the BBL game takes place as Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters take on league leaders, Nottingham Wildcats. Viewed as the WBBL’s two most powerful franchises during the first three seasons, this will be an epic duel. It tips off at 5pm and features Great Britain stars such as Helen Naylor, as well as the frontrunner for this year’s MVP in Ashley Harris.
Next time on BBC Sport:
Friday 7 April 2017
Leicester Riders v DBL Sharks Sheffield (BBL Championship) 7.30pm
History lives and breathes yet again in the Women’s British Basketball League this weekend as Cardiff Met Archers play their first top flight game in their fabulous new facility.
Player-coach Stef Collins and her side will step out tomorrow afternoon against Team Northumbria for a WBBL Championship match-up that has got everyone at Archers excited and raring to go.
She said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be playing our first showcase event at the Archers’ Arena, which is the new, £5 million state-of-the-art sports facility investment by Cardiff Met University.
“It is a wonderful facility which will certainly increase our profile here at the University, along with generating a significant boost and buzz around the game of basketball in Wales and throughout the UK.
“We have had a number of Welsh National Teams use the facility for training and look forward to further establishing those links with Cardiff Met and Basketball Wales.”
“We are hoping to attract a record home crowd on the day,” continued Collins.
“As well as the game, there will be a performance by Jukebox Collective Performing Arts Academy based in Cardiff, our Junior U10 Academy players taking to the showcourt at half-time, along with other special guests.
“It will certainly be a fun filled day out for fans and family.”
“Meanwhile looking at the competition and game itself, we are excited to play Team Northumbria after a tough away loss in Newcastle at the beginning of the season.
“We are definitely in a better place at this stage of the campaign and will look to build upon our improved performance in the New Year.”
Prior to the action getting underway in South Wales, there will be Caledonia pride tipping off at home to Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters and looking for a first home victory – having recently got off the mark with a win at Wolves.
Oaklands themselves have a tough task to try and slow down the momentum of newly crowned Trophy winners Sevenoaks Suns on Sunday morning as they continue their search for an elusive first league success.
Leicester Riders will try to bounce back from their disappointment in Glasgow last weekend when they entertain Nottingham Wildcats in a local derby and top of the table showdown, while Barking Abbey Crusaders will also go up against Manchester Mystics on Sunday.