LEICESTER, NEWCASTLE BOOK WEMBLEY SPOT
- Updated: April 21, 2013
Leicester Riders and Newcastle Eagles will meet in the BBL play-off final for the second year in a row after the British Basketball League’s two giants eased through to next Sunday’s season climax at Wembley.
And the Midlands side’s bid for a treble is on after they booked their place with a 76-60 victory over Plymouth Raiders in the second leg of their semi-final.
The league and Cup winners looked in some danger of giving up their first leg advantage when they trailed 39-24 at half-time to fall a single point behind on aggregate.
But the Riders – with Pavol Losonsky scoring a game-high 21 points – started the third with an 18-2 run to blow away their visitors and secure a 156-126 win on aggregate.
Newcastle were always in control against Surrey Heat and they sealed their final spot despite losing 96-92 in Guildford.
Up 110-82 from Friday’s first tie, the Eagles had already left their hosts with a mountain to climb and it proved an impossibility as the defending play-off champions coasted to a 202-178 aggregate triumph.
But Surrey – paced by 35 from Frank Holmes – at least went out on a winning note, finishing with a 10-3 run.
“We are happy to have navigated through the play-offs,” said Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy. “I think we would have felt like we had missed out with the final taking play at Wembley again.
“We really jumped on them on Friday night and then came out and played an excellent first quarter tonight. After that I felt we were always in control of the tie.”
Kareem Maddox had 24 points and 13 rebounds for Newcastle who have emerged with the trophy on three of the four times they have faced the Riders in a major final, with this year’s Cup as the lone exception.