BBL Championship: Leicester Riders keep up pressure at the top

Leicester Riders' Rashad Hassan
Rashad Hassan joined Leicester Riders ahead of the 2013-14 season

Leicester Riders enjoyed two wins in as many nights as they kept up their BBL Championship title challenge, thanks to in-form American forward Rashad Hassan.

Hassan scored 20 points as Riders beat Leeds Force 74-54 on Saturday before contributing 31 to help hold off London Lions 91-76 less than 24 hours later.

The wins mean Riders remain in third, eight points behind leaders Newcastle Eagles with four games in hand.

There were also wins for Force, Eagles, Durham, Worcester and Cheshire.

Riders coach Rob Paternostro said: "I thought travelling down to play a tough London team in a back-to-back, it was one of our smartest games of the season.

"Not only were we physically ready, but mentally I thought the guys did a heck of a job and we are really proud of the guys for coming away with a 2-0 weekend.

BBL Championship results 2-4 Jan
Friday, 2 January
Sheffield Sharks 60-62 Leeds Force
Saturday, 3 January
Surrey United 76-97 Newcastle Eagles
Leicester Riders 74-54 Leeds Force
Sunday, 4 January
London Lions 76-91 Leicester Riders
Durham Wildcats 77-72 Bristol Flyers
Plymouth 90-95 Worcester Wolves
Cheshire Phoenix 93-75 Manchester Giants

"Our decision-making was as good as it has been all year, we have a young group and our goal for the second half of the year is to keep getting better."

Eagles remain on top after beating Surrey United for their 19th straight win in all competitions.

But second-placed Worcester Wolves are just four points behind the reigning champions, who they meet on Friday, after they beat Plymouth Raiders.

Leeds Force shocked Sheffield Sharks 62-60 with some late heroics from James McCann, while Durham Wildcats beat Bristol Flyers 77-72.

Cheshire Phoenix stretched their winning run to nine games as Mike DiNunno scored 36 points to lead them to a 93-75 success against Manchester Giants.

There was no WBBL Championship action, but the top eight clubs contested the second Betty Codona Classic tournament, played in honour of the legendary coach.

Sheffield Hatters took the title, beating title rivals Nottingham Wildcats 79-73 behind 26 points and 11 rebounds from Great Britain star Steph Gandy.

The teams will meet again in the inaugural WBBL Trophy Final at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena on Sunday.

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