Leicester Riders completed a third straight British Basketball League Playoff title after a resounding 93-61 victory over the London City Royals at the O2 Arena on Sunday.
For Leicester, they become just the fourth team in BBL history to win the Playoff title three times in a row following on from Kingston, Worthing and Newcastle and they do so having had a gruelling campaign that included competing in the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Europe Cup.
“This [win] feels tremendous because this season, everyone knows how long it’s been for us, how many games we have played, it was a real grind,” said Riders coach Rob Paternostro.
“Coming into today, I thought it would be a closer game but what we did know is that we were locked in.
“We had a meeting last night and we were putting [Royals] plays up on the board and they knew them already and I was proud of how they played physically on the court and also mentally on how they were locked in.”
Tim Williams led the Riders with 20 points and 10 rebounds as he claimed MVP honours. JR Holder supported with 17 as they raced clear thanks to an 18-2 run, taking advantage of a Royals side that went away from playing as a team and performed as individuals.
Leicester’s win also ends the hopes of a London sweep of BBL trophies this season, with London Lions capturing the league and Cup double and the Royals securing the Trophy.
But dreams of Royals completing their own double were dashed in what turned out to be a nightmare third quarter that ultimately ended their season on a sour note but the Royals can hold their heads up high regardless, as they finish the season as BBL Trophy winners and Playoff runners-up.
“We’ve had a great season and it would have been nice to cap it off with a win,” said Royals head coach Jay Williams. “Hats off to the Riders, they came out and executed their game plan and were just consistent the whole way through.”
Matthew Bryan-Amaning led Royals with 19 points.
A 9-0 run from the Riders, early on put them 16-9 ahead as London’s offence relied heavily on individual play instead of team basketball.
Royals showed glimpses of the side that had played so well throughout their first BBL season, culminating in reaching the Playoff final but Leicester edged ahead at the half, 44-36.
From edging ahead to pulling away with ease, Riders built a sizable lead in the third, while the Royals remained in neutral and despite good patches of team basketball in the final quarter, the damage was done.
Photo: Mansoor Ahmed