The line-up for the 2016 BBL Cup final is almost complete after Leicester Riders booked their place while Newcastle Eagles took a big step towards securing theirs.
Riders’ fans will be heading in droves to January’s final at the Barclaycard Arena after a 152-130 aggregate Semi-Final win over London Lions.
Trailing by twelve points from the first leg, the Lions battled well in the first half and got within two points on aggregate, before Leicester hit back to regain control of the tie.
Behind 16 points from TrayVonn Wright and 15 from Neil Watson, the Riders were able to keep their noses ahead on aggregate the rest of the way – recording a 75-65 victory on the night.
“Coming in with the first-leg lead, we knew we had to be solid,” said Riders’ coach Rob Paternostro.
“I thought that for forty minutes, things didn’t go perfectly for us, but I thought we were solid enough to keep things ticking over.
“In the second half, our guys we were able to make the plays to push ahead. Overall I’m really pleased with how the guys competed and we are really excited to be going to Birmingham.”
Cheshire Phoenix will have to make history if they want to join the Riders following their 113-85 defeat to Newcastle Eagles in the first leg of their BBL Cup Semi-Final.
No BBL team has ever come back from a deficit that big in a two-legged game and the Eagles put themselves in a commanding position thanks to a 28-point haul from Rahmon Fletcher.
“Cheshire came out really fast as we expected,” said Eagles’ player-coach Fab Flournoy.
“They have a number of talented players and we fully expected them to compete for the full forty.
“We stuck to our game plan really well and kept our energy high.”
He added, “As far as we are concerned it is only half time though and we know we are going to have another tough game on Friday.”
The Eagles took their unbeaten run in the BBL Championship to 14 games as Fletcher again led the way, this time netting a game-high 20 points in an 85-73 win at Leeds Force.
Leicester Riders moved up to second in the standings following their 76-66 defeat of Manchester Giants on Sunday.
Despite a game-high 26 points from Stefan Gill, the Riders were able to take control of the game in the second half thanks in part to 21 points from TrayVonn Wright.
“It was a real scrappy game, I think we spent a lot of energy,” said Riders’ boss Rob Paternostro.
“In the second half our guys stepped it up on the defensive end and we did a great job from the free-throw line.
“Shooting 19 from 21 helped push us over the line and give us an undefeated weekend.”
Surrey Scorchers got back to winning ways on Friday as Tayo Ogedengbe had a huge night for the Guildford-based side, with a season-high 31 points and 10 rebounds in an 89-81 victory over Bristol Flyers.
Glasgow Rocks denied Surrey a winning weekend though after inflicting a 94-77 defeat on Sunday. Bench players led the way for both sides as Kieron Achara top-scored for the Rocks with 19 points, while Elvisi Dusha had a team-high 15 points for Surrey.