Leicester prevail in thrilling finish
Leicester Riders ended a 12-year wait for silverware as they secured the BBL Cup in thrilling fashion as they defeated the Newcastle Eagles 85-80 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham in front of a bumper 7,500 crowd.
Back-to-back baskets from Fab Flournoy gave the Eagles the lead at 80-79 with 1:05 left. Zaire Taylor sank a huge three-pointer with 45 seconds left to give the Riders the lead at 80-82 and Jorge Calvo held his nerve to make one of his free-throws with 20 seconds left.
The Eagles had the chance to win the game, but both Joe Chapman and Damon Huffman missed three-pointers down the stretch and Calvo and former Plymouth Raider Anthony Rowe made free-throws to give the Riders the thrilling victory to spark amazing scenes as the Riders celebrated their victory.
Earlier in the game, a tight opening to the game saw both sides trading baskets early on as they tried to establish themselves on the game. A pair of three-pointers from Andrew Sullivan saw the Riders take an early 12-9 lead, but the Eagles bagged six of the next eight points to overturn that quickly as they lead 15-14 with three minutes left in the opening period. Seven points from Jamell Anderson, including a three-pointer, gave the Riders a strong finish to the quarter as they ended 20-17 to the good.
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A Chapman three-pointer gave the Eagles a 24-22 lead, but it was shortlived as the Riders picked up their intensity at both ends of the floor and as a result, enjoyed a 18-5 burst to take the score out to 40-29 with 3:20 left in the first half. Huffman and Taylor traded three-pointers in the closing moments of the quarter as the Riders lead 45-36.
An 8-2 burst bought the Eagles right back into the contest as they trimmed the deficit back to just four points at 50-46 The Riders were not to be outdone however as 11 points from Jay Couisnard, including three three-pointers, saw the Riders finish the third period strongly with a 15-4 burst to lead by 14 points at 65-51.
In the final period, Chapman and Anderson traded three-pointers early on as the Riders maintained their advantage and led by 12 points at 76-64, but Charles Smith sparked the Eagles into life in the closing stages as he bagged six points in a 14-2 burst to tie the game up at 78-78 with 1:25 left.
BBL Cup final: Newcastle Eagles 80 (17,36,51) (Chapman 29, Smith 17, Huffman 13) Leicester Riders 85 (20,45,65) (Couisnard 17, Anderson 15, Rowe 15).