With the score tied at 89 with 49 seconds remaining in the BBL Cup semi-final, 2nd leg, Plymouth Raiders looked certain to come up short against a determined Milton Keynes Lions outfit.
The Lions, who had taken the first leg 87-81, were still six points ahead on aggregate and he game looked over. That is until last season’s BBL regular season MVP Jeremy Bell decided to end Milton Keynes’ celebrations.
The American guard scored the final six points in regulation to force an unlikely overtime period, then he stunned the Lions with 10 points in extra time to send Plymouth to their second BBL final of the season.
“I really thought if we were going to have a chance to win this game there have to be a change,” Bell said. “And I started being more aggressive in looking for my shot, unlike earlier I was forcing passes and turning down shots, making mistakes.”
Bell, who finished the game with 32 points added: “We still had enough time to win the game and we stayed together and pulled through.”
Plymouth’s Lehmon Colbert was delighted with the win on their home court, after a disappointing first leg defeat in Milton Keynes, he congratulated the entire team effort shown, especially in the final minutes of regulation.
“I’m pretty happy, we played well and everyone chipped in tonight and bought into the system,” he said.
It was a game where there had to be a loser, MK Lions can hold their heads up high, knowing that they can compete with any side in the BBL on the day. But will feel let-down knowing that this slipped through their fingertips.
Bell, a former Cheshire Jets standout wants to make things right after a BBL Cup final loss to Newcastle Eagles last month.
“I feel really good and fortunate to have this opportunity again,” Bell commented. “We still have that bad taste in our mouth from the Cup final and we’re looking forward to the Trophy final.”
It looks certain to be a repeat of January’s Cup final. With Plymouth now through, they face the winner of the other semi-final, between Newcastle and Sheffield Sharks. Unfortunately for the Yorkshire outfit though, they face a 32-point deficit heading into the second leg thanks to a 116-84 thumping at thhe hands of the Eagles.
Colbert is fairly confident that his side will be squaring-off with Newcastle in the two-legged Trophy final: “We’ve got Newcastle again, and the guys are looking forward to it” he said.
“Last time wasn’t the way we wanted things to turn out, I wouldn’t say it was an embarrassment, but we obviously want to do better than that.”
Newcastle’s second leg against Sheffield is this Friday.