In a thrilling contest over the two legs, it was eventually the Mersey Tigers who secured the remaining BBL Trophy Final berth after they defeated the Newcastle Eagles 74-77 at near 3,000 capacity Sport Central on Friday evening to win 156-159 on aggregate. The Tigers will now face the Guildford Heat at the O2 Arena on Saturday 5 March as they seek to avenge their BBL Cup Final defeat at the hands of One Health Sharks Sheffield.
After the first leg ended in a tie at 82-82, both sides looked to secure the victory and had opportunities to do so throughout the contest. The Eagles opened up a double-digit lead at 56-44 but a 15-4 burst from the Tigers closed the gap to a single point at 60-59 to put them right back into the contest.
A James Jones three-pointer tied the game at 66-66 at the start of the final period and both sides traded baskets through to the final two minutes of the game before a Nate Reinking basket tied the game once more at 74-74 with 1:55 remaining. Trey Moore picked up his fifth and final personal foul and was forced to sit out the remaining 45 seconds as Perry Lawson was sent to the foul-line where he made one of his bonus shots to give the Tigers their first lead in the game since the opening quarter.
A Tafari Toney basket took the score out to 74-77 and following an Eagles time out with 25 seconds remaining the Eagles had the opportunity to tie the game, but Andrew Bridge’s three-point attempt was deflected by Andrew Sullivan. The ball found its way into Charles Smith’s hands and his long range effort as time expired was not close enough and the Tigers held on for the all-important victory.