There’s a new name on the BBL Trophy after Leicester Riders surged to an 85-77 victory over Newcastle Eagles in the final at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
The Riders’ win on Saturday not only ended the Eagles’ bid for a second straight clean sweep of honours, it also delivered the East Midlands’ side their first-ever success in the competition at the fifth time of asking.
For large swathes of the game, the contest was similar to last month’s BBL Cup final. Riders would take a lead early in a quarter, only for the Eagles to respond as it wore on.
The difference this time around came in the fourth quarter, after the Eagles had tied the game at 72-72.
Instead of Newcastle pushing on to victory, the Riders responded by finding another gear behind an MVP performance from Drew Sullivan, who would finish with
The GB International ignited an 8-0 run that proved to be pivotal and delivered his side a much-deserved victory.
TrayVonn Wright put in a strong performance for the Riders with 20 points and nine rebounds, while the Eagles were led by 18-point, 8-rebound performance from Rahmon Fletcher.
“I thought it was a phenomenal game, it just kept going back and forth,” said Riders’ coach Rob Paternostro, who rounded off a great week that also saw him become a father for the second time.
“This is our fifth title since I’ve been here and it’s amazing to continue to be in these games.
“I think people look at the Eagles and Riders and think it’s easy to get to these Finals, but it’s not.
“It feels great to be part of this organisation and it feels great to be part of number five.”
He added, “We’re going to enjoy this one, 110%. We’ll have a good time but then we’ll get back to business for next Saturday’s game against Surrey.”
As for the Eagles, they missed out on a title for the first time since losing the Play-Off Final in 2014.
“I think it was good Final,” said Eagles’ player-coach Fab Flournoy.
“I give [Riders] a lot of credit, they had a good game-plan coming into it.
“I think in the second half we settled into the game a little better, but by that time [the Riders] already had their rhythm and it was like trying to stop a freight train and that particular freight train didn’t just stop.”
In the BBL Championship, all the weekend’s action concerned teams fighting it out for a place in the Play-Offs with five of the bottom six teams in action.
After losing a 14-point fourth quarter lead, Cheshire Phoenix held on to record an 89-88 victory away to Surrey Scorchers. Danny Huffor was the main man for Cheshire with 27 points, while Surrey’s KC Ross-Miller had a game-high 35 points.
Leeds Force kept up their recent good form, running out 84-70 winners over Manchester Giants, with Rob Marsden recording a game-high 22 points against his former club.
The Giants were able to bounce back on Sunday after they handed Plymouth Raiders a 91-83 defeat. Half of the Giants’ six championship wins this season have come at Plymouth’s expense and the latest win was sparked by a 21-point haul from Jerelle Okoro.