SHEFFIELD SURGE TO BBL PLAYOFF TITLE

Sheffield Sharks defeated Leicester Riders 84-77 to win the 2016 BBL Playoff title.

And in front of 16,000 fans at London’s O2 Arena, they did so in emphatic fashion with a combination of guile and grit.

From trailing 66-59 at the close of the third quarter of a game that swung back and forth, Atiba Lyons saw his side pull off a decisive surge when it mattered most to claim the last piece of silverware of the British basketball season.

Jerrold Brooks was a man possessed, keying a 14-0 run saw the Sharks claw 80-71 ahead as the Riders were held scoreless for over five minutes as their hopes of a treble were ruthlessly extinguished.

And, fittingly, it was the final’s MVP Mike Tuck – who grabbed a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds – who put Sheffield as much as ten clear with 40 seconds left as the upset was confirmed.

“They’ve been such a consistent team all season and we knew this wouldn’t be a walk in the park,” he said. “We did a good job of putting them on their heels, especially in the second half. We did a good job of slowing down their scorers.

“But I couldn’t be more proud. We had such an up and down season, changing players, losing guys to injury, going on win streaks, having tough schedule runs, and everything and we’ve been a team to fight through everything.”

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Neil Watson had a team-best 17 points for Leicester who will have to console themselves with the league and Trophy crowns.

This wasn’t their best day amid a highly distinguished campaign.

“We took control but I though we missed a lot of easy ones around the basket,” said coach Rob Paternostro.” They were able to get out on the break and score. Credit to them, they hit some timely shots.

“Some of them were contested but we dried up a bit in the fourth quarter. When you play in these finals, it comes down to who hits the timely shots and they did that.”

Team Northumbria, behind 17 points from Fiona O’Dwyer, upset league champions Nottingham Wildcats 75-68 to lift the WBBL Playoff title, outscoring their Midlands rivals 40-28 in the second half.

Pics: Mansoor Ahmed

Game stats

 

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