Thirteen years of hurt were exorcised at the O2 as Sheffield Sharks came from behind in superb fashion to finally get their hands on the BBL Championships after an 84-77 play-off victory over Leicester Riders.
MVP Mike Tuck lifted the trophy in front of the Sheffield fans and made an emotional declaration of his pride in his team mates after a stunning all-round display from the Sharks.
“I’m in complete shock now I can’t believe it,” said the captain.
“I’m so proud of the team and my guys and I just can’t believe it.
“I’m the type of guy who wears my heart on my sleeve and knew if I brought that to the court we could win.
“Everybody stepped up. Big time players step up in big time situations.”
The packed out arena crowd was treated to an incredibly quick start to this game, with a series of end to end points finished by a three from Jerrold Brooks to put Sharks 7-11 up.
Tuck was commanding the Leicester key, consistently picking up decisive rebounds for his side.
Sharks’ lead was short lived however, as a quick fire seven point run from Riders put them in the driver’s seat. Point guard Neil Watson netted three consecutive long range three pointers to put Leicester up 22-18 going into the second quarter.
Riders came out storming in the second quarter looking to extend their lead.
A quick three from Tyler Bernarndini saw them move seven points ahead, this being Riders’ fourth maximum from just five attempts, with the missed attempt being a last second half court shot from Neil Watson.
The game looked to be getting away from Sharks as they missed three consecutive lay ups before allowing Conner Washington of Riders to extend their lead by another 2.
However in the space of two minutes, Sharks managed to close the gap with seven unanswered points from a combined Mike Tuck and Kyle Odister.
The game then became a showcase of three point talent, as the two teams shared seven consecutive maximums.
The score was still swinging back and forth, with Riders going ahead and Sharks keeping up, until the last five seconds when a huge three pointer by semi finals MVP Brandon Hogg put the Sharks 43-44 up going into the second half.
The blow for blow play continued into the third quarter, with both teams trading points back and forth.
Trayvonn Wright drove to the basket for two before Tuck equalled that out with a good turn and layup.
A solid give and go play from Tuck and Brooks saw Sharks go out three points ahead, before Riders went on another seven point spree spearheaded by Watson and Washington, who combined for 31 points between them at this stage to lead 66-59 going into the final and crucial quarter which would be totally dominated by the Sharks.
Two quick points followed by a big three from John Barber closed the gap down to just two points.
Riders coach Rob Paternostro was forced into a time out with his side not scoring in the first three minutes of the quarter.
Tuck rose to the occasion and produced a master class in defensive play, picking up 13 rebounds to go alongside his match leading 20 points.
The tension was clearly getting to both teams, with a lot of turnovers and missed shots, however consistent free throw shooting and solid play in the key saw Sharks extend their lead to ten points with just two minutes to play.
The game was finally sealed with 12 seconds to go, as a foul on TJ Robinson made sure Riders could not come back, and ended the game 84-77 to Sharks.