Mersey Tigers were caught cold by Sheffield Sharks as they retained the BBL Cup with a 93-66 win in the final.

New Yorker Steve D’Agostino hit 35 points and was named as the game’s Most Valuable Player as the holders produced a dominant display to become the first-ever side to retain the trophy.

Superb defensively, the Sharks nullified a surprisingly toothless Tigers offence which while naturally blunted by the absence of injured Great Britain star Nate Reinking, spluttered unconvincingly from tip to buzzer.

“It was one of my worst days as a coach,” said Mersey’s Tony Garbelotto who saw his side endure a torrid time from the perimeter making only 2of 18 while time and time again hitting a brick wall inside as Sharks held firm in what was a memorable team performance.

As good as Dagostino was, forward Mike Tuck was equally influential in the first half and especially during the second quarter.

Both sides started the contest smoothly enough with Andrew Sullivan and Paul Williams scoring four points each for their respective teams but the usually prolific Tigers quickly dried up.

In fact outside of Sullivan and Aliu, they had nothing on offer as Tigers managed only 8 points during the next nine minutes of action and were left reeling as Sharks doubled their total to lead 20-10 at the end of the first period.

Thing then went from bad to worse for Tigers in the second quarter and within 90 seconds, Garbelotto had used up both of his time-outs for the half with his team 14 points behind and with problems at both ends of the court.

Nothing was dropping from downtown and his players were finding little space inside to exploit and trying to force the issue leading to turnovers and charging fouls being called. Defensively, Tigers were giving up far too much both inside and out.

Sharks could smell blood and in the run up to the break they kept their foot on the gas and led by Mike Tuck, stormed into a commanding 32-16 advantage. When Olu Babalola drained a triple against his former club it was 39-17 and the game was slipping  away completely from Tigers, a fact underlined when Ryan Patton repeated the trick moments later.

As if to emphasis it wasn’t to be their day, they headed into the locker room 51-26 behind having fouled Dagostino on the perimeter in the dying seconds after turning the ball over when they could have had the last shot.

The second half revival which some of the most optimistic of Tigers fans might have hoped for simply never materialised. In fact if anything, Sharks piled on the agony as Dagostino nonchalantly drained yet another three-pointer to put his team an eye popping 62-29 in front and effectively kill off any notion of a famous fight back by Tigers who made little impression in the third period.

They trailed 74-46 heading into the last quarter, and it was a ten minute period which was only ever realistically  a countdown to the Sharks celebrating one of the most one-sided finals in memory and to their credit, one of the most impressive performances too.

Earlier England defeated Wales 104-65 in an exhibition, led by 16 apiece from Stefan Gill and David Watts.

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