Mersey Tigers produced a dominant second half performance in the Franklin & Marshall BBL Trophy Final at London's 02 Arena, demolishing Guildford Heat 84-66.

There was to be no repeat of the Cup final letdown sustained by the current league leaders just six weeks ago. Tony Garbelotto's men, having been pushed by their unfancied rivals for 21 minutes, stepped up a gear and surged out of sight. A run of 22 unanswered points in the third quarter left Guildford on the canvas and unable to respond. 

Guildford held their own early on, trailing 20-18 at the end of the first quarter. Tigers centre Tafari Toney, on two quick fouls, was forced to the bench. Minus his presence, the Heat pushed inside.

The Surrey side closed the half with a 7-0 run to lead 37-36 at the break. Garbelotto was incensed.

"We were under pressure, I called a time out," he said. "I told them to start to shoot the ball more and play hard."

The fire was lit.

In a devastating seven-minute spell, Mersey were irresistible and it was game over. 65-45 in front at the close of the third, there was no route back. 

Andrew Thomson hit a game-high 21 points and Drew Sullivan, the game's Most Valuable Player, added 16 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, as Mersey went as much as 79-54 in front as they coasted home.

"I just think we woke up," said Sullivan, who admitted the delay in playing the players wages had brought them together.

"We stepped up our defence and our energy in the second half and that was enough."

Carlos Medlock led Guildford with 18.


 “We are deflated,” said Heat forward Mike Martin. “We've been doing a lot of work off the court to make sure everyone is on the same page but we didn't come together and we are all gutted and devastated.

“We lost our focus. They ran the same plays a couple of times and we couldn't read it. We should have been switched on and we weren't.”


5:00 left in 4th: Mersey 74-54 Guildford. 

End 3rd. Mersey Tigers 65-45 Guildford Heat. 22-0 run. Game over. the Heat have folded.

HT: Mersey 36-37 Guildford  – a 7-0 Heat run forces Tony Garbelotto to take a time out but that's how we finish at the interval. Intriguingly, the NBA has apparently ordered the league to get their presentations done by 3.30 and be off the premises by 4pm. So that means the equipment/backroom staff will not be getting medals on court as per usual.

Mid 2nd: Mersey Tigers 33-28 Guildford Heat

End 1st: Mersey Tigers 20-18 Guildford Heat (Thomson/Sullivan 7 – McLemore 6) 

Mid-1st: Mersey 16-13 Guildford … James Jones off to a flyer. Tafari Toney picking up needless early fouls and sits down.

13.30: Both coaches saying they're intrigued by the NBA-distance three-point line in action here today. Will it have an effect? Let's see. A decent 4-5000 sized crowd in the house to see the day's main action.

1315: Welcome to The 02 Arena. Who'd have thought that, 11 years after the rather rubbish Millennium Dome exhibition, we'd be here watching Guildford and Mersey? Who'd have imagined there'd be another BBL team in Guildford, anyone? Or that we'd have a Great Britain team whose captain played for a team in Liverpool? Dream on. We'll have updates coming up. If you've got any thoughts on the game (sponsored by Franklin & Marshall) – or tonight's second chapter of Nets-Raptors – post them below or send us a Tweet.

Image: BasketballViews

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