Basketball: Raiders stun Sharks to maintain revival

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The Independent Online

The Raiders won only two games in the league until Christmas, but with Saturday's result following Friday night's 84-79 win at Milton Keynes Lions, they have now won six since the start of the year in a run of form which earned Gary Stronach the coach of the month award for January.

Stronach has been central to Plymouth's rise from the second tier English Basketball League and played 356 games for them before taking over as coach in 1998, leading the Raiders to EBL league, cup and trophy titles before joining the BBL last season.

The Raiders have now climbed out of the basement into ninth with an eye on eighth-placed Chester Jets and the final qualifying slot for the play-off quarter-finals. The Jets lost 81-74 on Saturday night away to London Towers, who are fourth and closed the gap on third-placed Sheffield.

Stronach was prepared for a tough ride after winning 90-83 in Sheffield the previous weekend.

The improved form and fitness of the 6ft 9in, 20st Carlton Aaron, who pulled down 23 rebounds in addition to 18 points in support of the leading scorer, DeAntoine Beasley, has been crucial for the Raiders.

Sharks, who fell behind only in the final quarter, depended on 36 points from Sterling Davis.

The former Shark Lynard Stewart led London Towers scorers with 21 points against Chester.

The Jets, last season's league champions, now face a battle to even qualify for the consolation of the play-offs in the face of Plymouth's recent surge.

Billy Singleton, who has had a tough debut season as player-coach, led his scorers with 22 points, but never broke London's grip.

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