SHEFFIELD Sharks beat the odds and beat overwhelming favourites Leicester Riders 71-69 to win the BBL Trophy on Saturday.
Without Micah Williams due to injury and with young guard Nick Lewis battling an illness the Sharks turned in one of their best performances for years to hold off BBL Cup winners and BBL Championship champions-elect Leicester at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
It came down to a pair of free-throws from BJ Holmes with ten seconds to play, and he led all scorers with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists for an unquestionable MVP performance; he was supported by 15 points and 7 rebounds from Demetrius Jemison.
The league-leading Riders were led by Jay Couisnard’s 21 points. The result was somewhat of an upset as the Riders had previously beaten the Sharks on four occasions this season, by margins of between 16 and 30 points each time; but this time the Sharks held the favourites scoreless for a crucial six minutes late in the game.
The Sharks led for much of the game and established a commanding lead in the third quarter as Holmes made two three-pointers to put them up 53-61 as they held the Riders scoreless for two and a half minutes.
They prevented the Riders from scoring for the first three minutes of the fourth quarter as their lead went into double-digits at 53-65, but they had to weather a late storm from the Riders.
After a timeout, the league-leaders made a massive final push with a 13-2 run as 8 points for Zaire Taylor made it a one-point game, his second three-pointer in that run making the score 66-67 with a little over three minutes to play.
Leicester’s comeback was complete with 1.18 to play when Jorge Calvo made another three-pointer to tie the game at 69, but once more the Sharks did not allow them to get in front. The Riders had two chances to take the lead, through Jamall Anderson and Cousinard, but could not convert either before BJ Holmes was fouled by Couisnard with 10 seconds to play.
He showed fortitude characteristic of his team to sink both of his free-throws and win the Trophy.
Read Richard Fidler’s match report in Monday’s Full Time in The Star.
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