London Lions picked up the 2019 BBL Cup with a 68-54 victory over Glasgow Rocks at ArenaBirmingham.

It was only the second trophy in the 42-year history of the Lions, their first since winning this competition in their previous incarnation in Milton Keynes in 2008.

Favourites as the current league leaders, Vince Macaulay’s side wholly dominated a scrappy duel.

Shrugging off the Scots for good in the second quarter, they bullied and cowered their foes into submission at both ends of the floor with Kervin Bristol and Brandon Peel turning themselves into man mountains in the paint with the latter claiming a game-high 21 points and 14 rebounds to land the game’s MVP prize.

London, towers. Glasgow squashed.

“Captain Joseph Ikhinmwin stressed to us before the game that every game is a championship game and every team is going to come out and give us their best shot,” Peel declared.

“This game proved that from start to finish – it was definitely a fight right down until the end.

“In the end I think we executed a little bit better and we gritted it out on defence and that’s how we came up with the win.

“This is arguably the greatest moment of my career so far as a Lion. I didn’t come from a very winning background, so this means everything to me right now.”

Glasgow lent heavily on their Scottish front line of Kieron Achara, Ali Fraser and Gareth Murray to at least contend with London early in the finale but their resistance finally gave way.

That the Rocks were held scoreless for four minutes in the opening period provided a glimpse of the Lions ferocious defence.

An 8-2 run concluded by Murray levelled the game at 10-10 but London would never be equalled again.

Seven unanswered points pushed Macaulay’s men clear early in the second and an identical run to close the period extended the gap to 30-20 at half-time with the Scots recording the lowest ever tally in a half in a final.

Offensively stymied, Darryl Wood’s men fared little better upon the re-start. Bristol was able to go toe to toe with Achara, Justin Robinson thrived on the opportunities thrown his way on the perimeter and time and again, the Rocks found their pathway ruthlessly blocked.

A 9-0 burst in the third tightened London’s grip and although consecutive scores from Bo Zeigler and a lay-up from Kenny Carpenter – who hit a team-high 13 points – concluded a similar flurry that cut the deficit to 54-47 with 7:49 remaining, there was no discernable shift in momentum.

Tabb completed his own double-double with 12 points and eleven rebounds and the capital outfit eased towards a deserved triumph, setting them up for the chase for more silverware from their current pole position in the league.

“I feel like we have a special group,” Robinson said. “But who knows if this group will be back together next season?
“We have to make the most of every opportunity we get.”

Lions coach Vince Macaulay’s team was as golden as his jacket (Mansoor Ahmed)

Bo Ziegler notched 12 points and ten rebounds while Achara grabbed 11 points and eight rebounds for the Rocks who have now lost in ten consecutive appearances in major finals including six in the Cup.

“Performance is the key thing,” admitted Rocks coach Darryl Wood. “You want to win every game you play. It sucks to lose and not perform. Those are the harder ones to take.

“If we’d put on a great show and London Lions had just been the better team, you can walk away from that. We’re not thinking they were better.

“We just beat ourselves and we have to learn and improve. That’s a tough hurdle and we’ll see what we’re made of mentally now.”

Game stats

WBBL Cup final: Naylor with deadly blow for Hatters

Sheffield Hatters resisted a furious comeback to beat Sevenoaks Suns 62-60 and lift the 2019 WBBL Cup in Birmingham.

Vanessa Ellis’ side shrugged off their tag as underdogs with 12 unanswered points in a six-minute first quarter blitz providing a 16-6 cushion over the unbeaten league leaders.

The Hatters, dominant in what was formerly the National Cup, relentlessly forced the Suns into poor shots that saw them missing their initial eleven three-point attempts as the gap grew into double figures in the second quarter.

Up 34-27 at half-time, Alison Gorrell’s free throw put Sheffield as much as 43-31 clear with 4:26 left in the fourth.

But Sevenoaks hit back, and ferociously. An 18-4 run saw them lead for the first time, moving 51-49 in front with 5:35 remaining.

And from them it become a bout of punches and counters. And what drama.

Renee Busch delighted her father and coach Len by nailing a pressure jumper with 7.4 seconds left as Sevenoaks led Sheffield 60-59.

Not the last word. Helen Naylor, a stalwart for Hatters, buried a three-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining and although Cat Carr – who hit a game-high 21 points – got off a long-range attempt out of a time-out, it missed the mark.

“I knew when the ball came to me we didn’t have much time on the clock and it’s a shot I practice,” said Naylor.

“We’ve had the chance to execute that play a couple of times in games and we never have, until today – and now we are champions.”

Naylor played the hero (Mansoor Ahmed)

Gorrell paced the victors with 16 points with Sarah Toeaina adding an immense contribution of 15 points and 13 rebounds.

“I’ve said all along, it was going to be a tough game,” Ellis said.

“We know how good the Suns are, but we also know how good we are. “[This win] is about the team and the players we have, they are fantastic both on and off the court.

“It’s about pulling together and showing what a team can do. They kept going until the end and they deserve this win.”

Tayani Clark grabbed 12 points and 14 rebounds for Sevenoaks.

“It was a well fought game, but we struggled to put the ball through the hoop and when that happens it’s hard to come out on top,” Carr admitted.

“We’ll use this as motivation as we continue on through the season.”

Game stats


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