BBL Trophy Final
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 77 (17,30,50) (Fletcher 18, A Thomson 17, Smith 15)
Leicester Riders 85 (20,42,58) (Sullivan 22, Wright 20, Bernardini/Washington 13)
It was fifth time lucky for Leicester Riders as they finally got their hands on BBL Trophy silverware with an 85-77 victory against Esh Group Eagles Newcastle, at the Emirates Arena.
Riders led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, and just like they did to win the BBL Cup Final, the Eagles battled back, however this time there would be a different ending.
GB captain Drew Sullivan was hugely influential for the Riders, finishing with a game-high 22 points including some crucial baskets in the fourth to earn the MVP award.
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 Conner 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 Joe Chapman to connect with back-to-back triples to tie the game at 72.
However, Sullivan replied yet again with another three of his own to put his side back ahead – and this time for good – sparking an 8-0 run as Riders kept their opponents scoreless in a vital spell before closing out the game from the foul line.
Fletcher led the Eagles with 18 points, but their quest for a second consecutive clean sweep was ended in Glasgow.