BBL play-off semi-finals: Leicester Riders hold narrow lead while Plymouth Raiders stun London Lions
Geno Crandall scores a team-high 20 points as the Leicester Riders edge the Newcastle Eagles; Rickey McGill and Ashley Hamilton star to help Plymouth Raiders beat London Lions
Last Updated: 13/05/21 8:08am
Leicester Riders and Plymouth Raiders both head into their playoff semi-final second legs with an advantage after beating Newcastle Eagles and London Lions, respectively, on Tuesday evening.
The league champion Riders narrowly beat Eagles 77-76 in the first tip of the day courtesy of their best first quarter in nine years that saw them drop 36 points and lead by 18.
Eagles fought back in the second period and limited their opponents to just 13 while adding 20 of their own to narrow the gap to 49-38 entering the half-time break.
But back came Leicester after the interval, scoring 19 to bolster their advantage to 16 going into the fourth quarter. Eagles refused to quit, though, and a 24-point final quarter while limiting their opponents to just nine ensured the tie remains wide open ahead of the second leg.
2021 BBL playoff semi-finals
|Tuesday (1st legs)||Leicester Riders 77-76 Newcastle Eagles|
|London Lions 80-92 Plymouth Raiders|
|Thursday (2nd legs)||Leicester Riders vs Newcastle Eagles|
|London Lions vs Plymouth Raiders|
Geno Crandall led the scoring for Riders with 20 points, while William Lee finished with a double-double performance of 18 points and 14 rebounds. Rahmon Fletcher was key for Eagles as he finished with a game-high 34 points alongside five rebounds and six assists.
Plymouth will meanwhile take a 12-point lead into the second leg of their semi-final after producing an outstanding finish down the stretch to beat London 90-82.
Raiders led throughout but could only manage a narrow lead of two points following a scrappy first quarter. They extended their lead to 12 with a dominant 28-point second quarter to earn a 46-34 cushion.
Lions fought back in the third as they narrowed the deficit to just three points, setting up a nail-biting finale. A hard-fought final quarter saw Raiders score 32 points to gain a 12-point advantage going to the second leg.
Should they turn things around on Thursday, Lions will be only the third side in BBL history to come back from such a margin in a two-legged fixture.
Rickey McGill starred for Raiders as he finished with a game-high 28 points, while Ashley Hamilton was also instrumental in his side's success with a double-double performance of 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Deandre Liggins was the standout player for Lions as he finished with a triple-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
The play-off final takes place at Leicester's Morningside Arena on Sunday 16 May, again live on Sky Sports.