Leicester Riders will face off against the Manchester Giants in this season’s British Basketball League Cup final in Birmingham on January 30.
For the Riders, they have the opportunity to secure a third BBL Cup for their already bulging silverware cabinet. But standing in their way will be a hungry Giants team,enjoying their best season to date in the BBL since the franchise returned to the fold in 2012 and stacked with elite homegrown talent led by current Great Britain captain Dan Clark.
Riders best London in classic two-game series
Leicester Riders and London Lions put on an enthralling semi-final clash, further highlighting the calibre of these two sides.
But in the end, the Riders – backed by a 99-96 first leg win in the capital – sealed the deal in-front of their jubilant home fans with a narrow 79-74 victory in the second leg for a 178-170 aggregate win.
Zach Jackson paced Leicester with 15 points with floor general and reigning MVP Geno Crandall showcasing his wizardry with 16 assists, 12 of those in just over 17 minutes on court along with six points.
London, who hadn’t played since the first leg in December thanks to games being victims of covid protocols were sloppy with mistakes being made at both ends of the floor, which played right into Leicester’s hands as they enjoyed a comfortable 52-34 cushion at the half.
The Lions, a team flying the British flag in Europe, are better than that though, and they shook off the rust to mount a comeback in the second half, getting to within a single point on aggregate.
The reigning league champions held their ground though and will compete in yet another final.
A Giant leap into the final
It took 21 years plus a rebirth but Manchester Giants will compete for domestic silverware in Britain’s second city.
The Giants did it the hard way, overturning a 10-point first-leg deficit against Glasgow Rocks, by claiming a convincing 92-79 second-leg success for a 184-181 aggregate win.
Tyrik Armstrong paced the Giants with 25 points along with seven assists, while GB international Will Saunders supported with 17.
Manchester led by nine at the half before the Rocks wiped out that advantage to restore their 10-point aggregate lead by levelling the score on the night at 69-69.
Glasgow’s aggregate lead was extended to 12 with 5:39 remaining, but Manchester burst into life again with a 16-1 run to close out the second leg and had to their first final since the franchise was reborn in 2012.