Sevenoaks Suns won the 2019 WBBL Playoff title with a 60-55 win over Leicester Riders.

Led by a game-high 23 points from the MVP of the final, Janice Monakana, it secured for the victors a domestic double and a fitting addendum to their unbeaten league campaign.

It was a game of attack and counter-attack that eventually allowed Sevenoaks to retain the post-season crown for a third successive year.

“We stayed positive,” said Monakana, the difference maker down the closing stretch. “It didn’t matter how the game was going, we just focused on what we were doing and what we could bring and that definitely made me feel confident during the game and stay consistent.

“At the end, we just wanted to win and we stuck together. It hasn’t been an easy season for us. People might look at us staying undefeated in the league. But we lost the Cup. We lost the Trophy.

“It wasn’t an easy season. We have had our ups and downs. But this has been the perfect ending and we deserved that.”

Leicester led 33-29 at half-time after notching 12 unanswered points and they immediately extended their cushion to ten after the break.

However Len Busch’s side confined their rivals to a solitary pair of free throws over final eight minutes of the third period as a 13-2 run propelled the Suns ahead once more.

The Riders responded but could not land a fatal blow that would allow them to replicate their triumph in March’s WBBL Trophy final, converting just 5-21 from three-point range.

And although their rivals struggled almost equally with Cat Carr going 5-25 to add 13 points, in a trial of nerves and execution, Monakana – included in GB’s 17-strong initial squad for EuroBasket – was able to ignite a decisive 7-0 burst with two free-throws and then a three-pointer which wiped out a 50-48 Leicester advantage that was to be their last as Sevenoaks held firm.

“I am mostly proud of how despite struggling with our shooting we stuck at it and came through in the fourth quarter,” Busch admitted.

“I am really proud of their effort and fight. Once we got ourselves ahead late in the fourth I felt our energy lift and it carried us through to the end of the game.”

Brea Elmore paced the Riders with 17 points as their quest for a double of their own faded just too soon.

“It’s definitely disappointing to get so close and end up on the losing end,” the American admitted.

“But props to Sevenoaks, they made some great plays at the end of the game and we fell short. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. So the next time we get here we won’t have the same disappointment.”

Game Stats

Photo: Mansoor Ahmed

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