Leicester Riders have broken Newcastle Eagles stronghold by lifting the BBL Trophy final in Glasgow.

But Rob Paternostro’s men had to resist an astonishing rally from the holders before securing an 85-77 victory that ends Newcastle’s hopes of a second successive clean sweep.

A 23-8 run in the second half brought the Tyneside outfit back into contention after they trailed 52-35 with 6:35 left in the third quarter.

But after Joe Chapman buried a three-pointer that levelled the clash at 72-72 with under four minutes to go, Riders – paced by 22 points from the game’s MVP Drew Sullivan – hit eight unanswered points to pull decisively clear and avenge their loss of 12 months before.

It completed a week to remember for Paternostro who welcomed his second child a few days before. “I sensed our belief and loved our work out the night before and I always thought we were ready to go,” he said.

“We had guys down but always believed that someone else could step up and Conner (Washington) did a heck of a job for us. He can handle the ball and played 36 minutes in a major Final for us.

“Last Saturday night I was in the hospital watching a statcast and it wasn’t fun. But, to turn it around a week later with the birth of my daughter and then to grab this Trophy with such a special group of guys, means it is one of those weeks in life that you will never forget.”


Tyler Bernardini netted nine first quarter points, helping Leicester into a 16-5 lead midway through the opening period, before the Eagles responded with a 10-0 run.

The game was tied at 26 early in the second before nine unanswered points saw the Riders regain control, and Washington’s basket before the buzzer helped his side go into the half-time break with a 12-point cushion.

Wright increased the gap to 17 points with a three to make it 49-32, but the Eagles began to find their range from downtown to mount another resilient fightback.

Late in the third, Rahmon Fletcher connected with two big triples to cut the lead to six, and the momentum remained with the defending champions as they started the final quarter with an 8-2 run.

On three occasions, the lead was cut to a single point, but the Riders held firm and extended their advantage to six points, only for Scott Martin and Chapman to connect with back-to-back triples to draw the holders level.

However, Sullivan replied yet again with another three of his own to put his side back ahead and this time the Riders – overcoming an illness to Neil Watson – kept their opponents scoreless as the drama concluded, closing out the game from the foul line.

“We have got guys who are just resilient,” said Jamell Anderson. “We said before the game that whatever happens, we have to keep working hard and keep playing defence and stick to the game-plan and that’s exactly what we did today.

“It’s nice to be rewarded for our hard work – we gave it everything we’ve got and really put our hearts on the line today and got the reward we wanted.”

Fletcher had a game-high 18 points for Newcastle.

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Earlier, Scottish League champions Boroughmuir Blaze won the BBL Challenge after coming from behind to beat Falkirk Fury 68-57.

Photo: Mansoor Ahmed

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