Jordan Williams was again strong down the stretch for Worcester in the win against Newcastle
The top three teams in the BBL Championship lost at the weekend to open up this year’s title race.
Leaders London Lions lost at Leicester, Glasgow Rocks lost surprisingly to Plymouth and Newcastle were beaten on the road by BBL Cup winners Worcester.
Plymouth’s win was their first since mid-October and leaves Manchester as the BBL’s only team without a win.
There were also wins for Cheshire and beaten Cup finalists Bristol, who edged out Cheshire in double overtime.
Reigning champions London Lions lost to previous winners Leicester Riders 83-76 on the road with Corey Johnson hitting seven of his team-high 18 points in the last minute and a half to secure the win.
Worcester’s Jordan Williams, who contributed crucial late baskets in their Cup final win, was again prominent in their 77-72 win against Newcastle.
He led his team’s scoring with 18 points and added 11 rebounds. He and Kofi Josephs hit scores in the last three minutes to keep Newcastle at bay in a tight finish.
The most relieved team of the weekend was probably Plymouth, who ended a 12-game losing streak with a 76-67 win away to Glasgow Rocks. Leslee Smith hit 17 points to lead the Raiders.
BBL leaders (W-L)
London Lions (7-2)Glasgow Rocks (6-3)Worcester Wolves (5-3) Newcastle Eagles (5-3)Cheshire Phoenix (5-4)
Glasgow went into the last two minutes trailing by a point but never scored again.
New signing Will Neighbour, who came to the Raiders when the London Royals franchise collapsed, hit a three to start Plymouth’s 8-0 charge to a first victory since mid-October.
“It was certainly a relief, although we’ve been close in some games and lost down the stretch – it’s down to us being a young team,” said Raiders coach Paul James.
“Bringing in Will gives us the maturity that we haven’t had before. Against Glasgow, they came back at us but we always felt we could get the job done.”
Bristol Flyers shrugged off their BBL Cup Final defeat with a 98-94 double-overtime win over Cheshire Phoenix.
Gentry Thomas played all but four of the 50 minutes for Bristol for his haul of 32 points and 16 rebounds in the weekend’s most dramatic match-up.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright had 31 points and 11 assists for Cheshire, who had plenty of chances to win.
Bristol needed three Levi Bradley free throws with 10 seconds remaining to secure the first overtime period and they had to score the last seven points of the first overtime period to trigger an extra five minutes.
Even then, an 8-2 spurt in the last minute was needed to secure the win, with Thomas hitting five of those points.
Cheshire recovered to post a 83-78 win on Sunday against Sheffield, who had themselves won on Friday, 81-76 at home to Surrey.