Watson flurry helps to keep Rocks in contention for the league title
GLASGOW Rocks remain in the thick of the British Basketball League race after grinding out a precious 78-70 victory over London Lions last night at the Emirates Arena which keeps the Scots in third place and within reach of rivals Leicester Riders and Newcastle Eagles.
Neil Watson provided the spark, hitting nine of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter as the Scots completed a comeback from 11 down with an emphatic late flourish despite the injury-enforced absence of Gareth Murray. With the pressure on, the hosts recovered from a lacklustre second period by forcing mistakes and finding space on offense and that, claimed coach Sterling Davis, was vital ahead of what will be a critical clash with Leicester on Friday.
“We made some big shots down the stretch,” the American said. “Neil Watson hit three of them and stepped up big but collectively the guys came out in the second half with focus. You could see in their eyes they wanted to get the win.”
With Leicester hammering Manchester Giants 81-54 to stay two points clear at the top, Glasgow looked poised to easily keep track when they took an early lead but Zaire Taylor, who scored a game-best 26 points for London, ignited a 9-0 run that pushed the visitors 35-24 in front as half-time loomed.
But with Kieron Achara and Lewis Thomas each adding 15 points and seven rebounds, the Rocks capped a rally with an 8-2 burst in the fourth that allowed Davis’ men to draw level on losses with a suddenly vulnerable Newcastle.
“There was pressure there with the way the standings are now but you look at it as a lifeline for us every time that happens,” Davis said. “We have to stay in the hunt.”
Elsewhere, Caledonia Pride’s hopes of reaching March’s WBBL Trophy final in Glasgow were effectively ended in a 69-50 defeat to holders Sheffield Hatters 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB. email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel 0141 302 7156 Head of Sport Stewart Weir which left the Scots bottom of their group while Scotland guard Dee Hayward hit 23 points as Leicester defeated Cardiff 95-53 to book a last-four spot. Edinburgh Kool Kats sealed their seventh Scottish women’s league title by beating Tayside 72-53.
BBL: Glasgow Rocks 78 London Lions 70, Plymouth Raiders 83 Leeds Force 73, Manchester Giants 54 Leicester Riders 81. BBL Trophy quarter-final: Cheshire Phoenix 90 Bristol Flyers 71. WBBL Trophy: Sheffield Hatters 69 Caledonia Pride 50.