Marshall MK Lions secured the first piece of silverware of the season with a 69-66 triumph over Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Cup Final at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on Sunday afternoon.
Lions’ Kevin Griffin was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) in this most anticipated of matches that pitted the BBL’s top two teams against each other. Griffin’s award came thanks in no small part to his 24 points and five three pointers.
It was a low-scoring start to the game, particularly from the Lions. Eagles took advantage to post an 11-0 tear and lead 13-3. Although Milton Keynes rallied with the next six points, they still trailed 9-13 at the end of the quarter.
In fact it was not until the second quarter that the Lions’ shooting bore fruit, particularly from distance. Trailing 20-12, the Lions took the lead by a single point on the back of three consecutive three-pointers from Yorick Williams, Tony Windless and Kevin Griffin. In fact, Lions hit six three pointers in the second quarter alone as they led 33-28 at the interval.
Kevin Griffin broke the game open in the third stanza with a series of three pointers that saw Lions into a sizable lead, the biggest of which was at 57-41, following an 11-3 tear. Eagles hit back in the remaining seconds of the quarter and cut Milton Keynes lead to 12 points at 57-45.
Star man Griffin was subbed out and Eagles made the most of his absence to battle their way back into the game. Charles Smith led the charge and when Andrew Bridge netted a long range shot with five minutes remaining the deficit to reduced to just three points at 60-57 to the Lions.
Bridge was once again on target as the Eagles cut the gap still closer – he scored with 1.17 to go to get the Eagles to within one point at 67-66.
The final 30 seconds saw the ball largely in Lions hands. They ran down the clock, before Eagles were forced to foul them with five seconds left. Veteran forward Michael New cooly dispatched the two resulting free throws to re-establish a three point lead at 69-66 and force Eagles to try for a three to tie the game and force overtime. Lynard Stewart was the man with the ball in his hands, but his buzzer shot fell short and Lions won their first piece of silverware.