Leicester Riders defeated the Newcastle Eagles 85-80 to win the 2013 BBL Cup at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.
After eight years, club captain Barry Lamble proudly held the BBL Cup aloft and raced to celebrate with the supporters, clad in a sea of red.
“We’ve been working hard for this and it’s about time,” Lamble said.
“I’m speechless but it’s one of those times right now. We’re proud winners and we have worked hard for this. No one can deny that.”
Leicester’s Jay Cousinard scooped MVP honours for this year with 17 points.
“We’re a proud team and the spirit and belief is there”, he said. “I’m proud of this MVP award, but the win and the Cup is a better feeling.
“There was concern when Eagles made their run, but we never panicked and knew when to close out the game.”
With 22 seconds left, and Riders ahead 82-80, a drive from Flournoy was fiercely blocked by Sullivan, Jorge Calvo hit one of two from the line, and with 19 seconds left, Newcastle only used up 11 seconds of time as Riders iced the game from the line to win their first BBL trophy since the 2000/01 season when they lifted the Playoff trophy.
“We have a good group and when we take the floor, we believe that we can win,” Leicester coach Rob Paternostro said.
“There will be nights when you’ll have a bad game, but if you have a group of guys that can find a way to win.”
Joe Chapman led all scorers with 27 points in vain for Newcastle but a fantastic team effort from the midlands side saw five players hit double figures. Jamal Anderson had 15 points, as did Anthony Rowe, who suffered last year with the Plymouth Raiders.
“Last year was devastating, I won’t lie,” Rowe admitted. “This is a much better feeling though. It’s a great group of guys and for me, it’s even better knowing that we’ve beaten Newcastle after last year.”
Charles Smith, who broke the BBL Cup final scoring record last year against the Plymouth Raiders with 39 points, struggled to find his touch in 2013, scoring 19 points but he went 8/27 from the field, including 1/10 from three-point range.
The Riders controlled the opening few minutes as Newcastle were hurried, point guard Huffman tried too much on offence to begin, Newcastle’s style of transition basketball was not working early, their shooting trio of Charles Smith, Joe Chapman as well as Huffman were non-factors in the first ten minutes.
Leicester were smart on offence, going inside for most of the first as only Great Britain international Andrew Sullivan connected from deep. Riders enjoyed a first quarter lead of 20-17, but both sides shooting woefully from distance.
Marquette guard Chapman looked to get the Eagles going as he connected from three-point range, the first for Newcastle in eight attempts but Leicester’s Jamal Anderson brought the NIA to its feet with a throw-down on Eagles’ Kareem Maddox off an inbound steal, as Newcastle looked out of shape, no matter what they tried.
The normally loud Newcastle fans were kept silent as Leicester racked up eight more unanswered points, forcing coach Fab Flournoy to call a timeout with four minutes of the half left to play.
Flournoy and Chapman tried to get Eagles going as the minutes ticked away but the nearest rivals to them in the BBL league standings were one step ahead at the half, leading 45-36.
Eagles started strongly in the third, point guard Huffman, who struggled in the first half, found his rhythm and all of a sudden, his side were back in the game, they had not threatened much but Newcastle were disciplined and a much different side to the one seen in the first half.
Enter Leicester Riders’ Jay Couisnard.
The Texan hit 11 points in four minutes to restore the cushion back to double digits at 63-51, as Newcastle resorted back to long range shots, seconds into the shot clock.
Riders looked comfortable with their double digit advantage when with 4:49 to play in the fourth, Jamal Anderson, a factor, with 15 points as well as plays away from the statsheet fouled out to give Eagles and the black-and-white clad following some hope.
Coach Paternostro was forced to call a timeout as Riders gave up easy points inside to Huffman and Smith as the north-east side threatened.
The timeout had no effect.
Eagles were soaring. Smith, Chapman and Flournoy all scored in a two-minute spell and Paternostro had to call another timeout with 1:31 left - the scores tied at 78-78.
Riders’ Zaire Taylor then hit a clutch triple and from then; they never trailed again.