Leicester Riders 84 (29, 47, 60)(Anderson 18, Wright 15, Watson 14)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 73 (19, 45, 58)(Chapman 15, Fletcher 13, Flournoy 11)
Leicester Riders clinched the BBL Championship title with an 84-73 victory against two-time reigning champions and title rivals Esh Group Newcastle Eagles on Friday.
The League’s top two went into the penultimate game of the regular season with identical records of 28 wins and three losses and that parity was evident as they went blow-for-blow until a 10-0 Riders run late in the fourth quarter.
A Neil Watson jump shot, followed by a trademark dunk from TrayVonn Wright, kick-started the decisive sequence, which underlined Riders’ superior execution and athleticism.
The victory sees Riders complete the regular season sweep of their rivals, adding the BBL Championship to their BBL Trophy triumph against Eagles in February, heading into the BBL Play-Offs.
Homegrown forward Jamell Anderson led Riders with 18 points while Wright added a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double in front of a sold-out crowd at the LCS Arena.
Joe Chapman’s 15 points helped pull Eagles back into contention after they slipped 29-19 behind in the first period.
Fab Flournoy’s men, who had beaten Riders in the teams’ first meeting of the season at January’s BBL Cup Final, claimed their first lead since the opening minute when they scored four unanswered points to start the final stanza.
But that only served to refocus Riders, who regained their composure to secure the title for just the second time in their history and first time since 2013.
Both teams still have a game to play, and Eagles could yet equal Riders’ points tally. But the Leicester club are champions by virtue of the head-to-head tie-breaker against Eagles.