RIDERS DEFEND BBL CROWN

Leicester Riders are the British Basketball League champions for the second successive time.

They beat Plymouth Raiders 99-69 to clinch with three games to spare, adding a third title in the club’s history to the BBL Trophy already secured last month.

“We pulled out some close games this year, games we could have lost,” said coach Rob Paternostro. “And we got stronger.”

A 24-7 third quarter shook off Plymouth who threatened to prolong the race for two more days at least. Yet Conner Washington had 18 points and led a charge that ended any slim hope of a late-season miracle for Newcastle Eagles.

“It feels great,” Paternostro, whose side became the fifth team ever to land back-to-back titles, added.

“We went in at at half-time knowing we needed stops. We new we would. W e got confident. It was a total effort from the guys. This week was a tough week because people already had us pencilled in as champions. I wanted to get the job done and we did tonight.”

Nottingham Wildcats clinched back-to-back WBBL titles by holding off Northumbria 57-52.

“The first one was special because obviously it was our first and this one is special as it hasn’t been easy,” said Wildcats star Siobhan Prior. “At the start of the season we had some people who didn’t buy into what we were doing as a club. But the second half has been really great for us and we have grown as a team. The chenistry has been there and it is now like a family, as it should be, and as it has always been.”

Russian side Dynamo Kursk cruised to the Euroleague title by beating Fenerbahce Istanbul 77-63 in Sunday’s final in Ekaterinburg.

Photo: Mansoor Ahmed

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