Leicester Riders broke Newcastle Eagles’ stranglehold over British basketball’s major prizes with an 85-80 victory in the BBL Cup Final.
Rob Paternostro’s men had to withstand a severe test in the fourth quarter at the National Indoor Arena as the holders rallied back to edge ahead after trailing by as much as 14.
But led by 17 points from the game’s Most Valuable Player Jay Cousinard, they produced one last decisive surge, scoring the game’s last six points to end Newcastle’s run.
“We feel like we have a group this year who believe they can win,” said Paternostro.
“The thing about this league is that there are a lot of tough nights when things aren’t going well for you but you still have find a way to win. I’ve learnt a lot from watching them over the years in big finals, that they pull things out. And so far this season, we’ve showed that we can do the same.”
Newcastle, paced by a game-high 29 points from Joe Chapman, led only briefly and looked out of ideas when they trailed 45-36 at half-time, plagued by one turnover after another.
The Tyneside outfit were far from done though. Charles Smith hit a three to spark a rally and although Leicester accelerated, the league champions pulled out a 10-1 run which pushed them 80-79 ahead with one minute left when Fab Flournoy converted on the break.
However Zaire Taylor hit a priceless three-pointer and the momentum swung for good in the Riders favour.
“We know they’re a very good team and that’s why we had to being our A-Game,” said the American guard.
“We’re looking forward now to the rest of the season. We want to win a championship now.”
Too many Eagles players were disappointing. In truth, their comeback masked one of their most lethargic displays in a major showpiece.
“It’s disappointing,” said Damon Huffman. “They did a good job early making us take tough shots and putting us in difficult situations. We just didn’t have that extra push.”
Anthony Rowe had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Leicester.
Earlier, the Irish Superleague select defeated England 83-80 in an enthralling friendly despite 33 points from Surrey’s Tayo Ogedengbe.
Comments are closed on this post.