LEICESTER, NEWCASTLE ADVANCE INTO FINAL

Leicester Riders are heading to their first BBL play-off final in 11 years after they demolished Glasgow Rocks 97-72 in the second leg of their semi in Loughborough.

The 173-149 aggregate victory booked a trip to Birmingham next Saturday for Rob Paternostro’s men, who will now face Newcastle Eagles after they delivered a spectacular second half recovery to beat Cheshire Jets 79-64.

Leicester, trailing 77-76 after Friday’s trip to the Kelvin Hall, took their lead from Cameron Rundles who fired a game-high 36 points and sparked the third quarter blitz that effectively condemned the Rocks season.

Up 46-36 at half-time, the Riders out-scored their rivals 33-20 in the following period to kill off the tie, as a 16-5 run proved decisive.

“We didn’t play particularly well in Glasgow, but it was important that we were only one point down,” said Paternostro.

“But we did a great job from the third quarter onwards and that’s where we won the tie. We were very confident in front of our home fans. They’ve been fantastic all season, and their energy helped up play well from start to finish, especially at the defensive end. That’s been our strong point all season, and it was no different against Rocks.”

Mychal Green led Glasgow on 21.

In the other semi, Charles Smith had a game-high 26 points as Newcastle over-turned their 99-89 deficit from the first leg in Chester after trailing 40-36 at half-time.

Newcastle out-scored their hosts 20-12 in the third period and capped their comeback by winning the fourth 23-12, leading by as much as 16 on the night, to secure a 168-163 aggregate win.

“It was an unbelievably tough game,” admitted player-coach Flournoy. “Both teams played with a degree of intensity not seen in the regular season.

“With the injuries we were carrying it became a five versus five situation and our defence in the second half was what carried us to the win. To hold Jets to six points in the first eight and a half minutes of the fourth quarter was key.

“Charles carried us offensively through the first three quarters and then Joe [Chapman] stepped up like a true MVP and made a bunch of tough shots to carry us home.

“I have to give a great deal of credit to Cheshire. The game was played really hard and in the right spirit. It was two solid, committed teams playing hard on every possession. Coach [John] Lavery did a fantastic job in blending those guys together at the end of the year.”

Adam Brown paced Cheshire with 19.

More Blue for Wolves

Worcester Wolves have announced that American guard Sherrad Prezzie-Blue is to return to the team next season.

25-year-old Prezzie-Blue proved his mettle as the Wolves’ on-court general, averaging nearly five assists in every game, while also scoring 17 points per game.

“I have really enjoyed being at Worcester, and have been pleased with how I’ve played,” he said. “Having said that, we all know that there is unfinished business that needs to be addressed.  We had a good season, but we know that we can do even better.  It’s great that Coach James is putting his faith in me and I will do everything I can to repay him and the terrific fans at the Wolves.”

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