BBL Cup Quarter Finals
Bristol Flyers 95-76 Manchester Giants (27-21, 25-18, 24-21, 19-16)
Flyers – Watson-Gayle 21, Delpeche 18, King 16; Giants – Green 19, Williams 17, Fletcher 14
Leicester Riders 94-73 Newcastle Eagles (24-20, 25-17, 29-13, 16-22)
Riders – Loving 27, Thornton 21, Jackson 13; Eagles – Johnson 24, Hamlet 14, Defoe 9
The Cup is the first major silverware up for grabs in any BBL season, with the Final taking place at the end of January, so some games in the early part of the 2022-23 calendar have had a little extra juice to them. Saturday’s clashes between the Bristol Flyers and Manchester Giants, and the Leicester Riders versus the Newcastle Eagles, were among those. And when the final buzzers sounded, the Bristol Flyers emerged victorious with a 95-76 win over the Manchester Giants.
Jelani Watson-Gayle led the Flyers with 21 points while Tajh Green had a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds in vain for the Giants. Leicester Riders also advanced to the last four by securing a 94-73 victory over the Newcastle Eagles at the Morningside Arena. Marc Loving shot 10/12 from the field, on his way to 27 points for the Riders, while Great Britain international Kyle Johnson had 24 for the Eagles.
Inside the SGS Arena in Bristol, the hosts got out to an early lead, with last week’s All-Star Five member Vincent King igniting the crowd on a fast break. Mike Miller got a steal on one end and found Thomas Bell III, who got the ball up in the air for King. Manchester’s imposing defender Green stopped an alley-oop shot, but King showed great patience to come down with the ball, then pivot beneath the basket and get an up-and-under layup.
Green didn’t let this dissuade him. He led the charge on the offensive end for the Giants, who caught up halfway through the first quarter, but the local support kept the Flyers energised.
With 40 seconds to go, it was King again who controlled the flow of the game by pushing the pace. Manchester’s defence recovered, but they were out of position, and King drove to the middle of the court then kicked it out to Jelani Watson-Gayle, who hit an open three to push the lead to 10 points.
A cross-court pass attempt on the final Bristol possession saw Manchester’s Dirk Williams pick it off and burst back down the other end for an open dunk to close the quarter.
Much like he finished the first, Williams got an easy score at the…