Leicester Riders retained the BBL Trophy with a 91-58 demolition of Plymouth Raiders at the Emirates Arena last night, the first leg of what looks odds-on to be a procession to claiming a domestic treble.
The game’s Most Valuable Player Taylor King had 20 points and ten rebounds as the holders ripped their rivals apart in the first half. And they eventually went as much as 86-48 ahead with three minutes left of the most lop-sided final in the competition’s history. “We had two weeks to prepare,” said King. “We watched a tonne of film and it showed. We got stops then we went the other way.”
His team’s plan was infused with matching every Plymouth move with a counter. It worked majestically. Rob Paternostro’s men savagely rocked their foes from the foundations upwards during a 17-0 run that began midway through the first period. But the tone, even in the opening exchanges, had already been set. Plymouth couldn’t score, couldn’t defend. Would not threaten.
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Down 31-9 after being held without a field goal for over five minutes, the Raiders turned to Corletto and he began and ended a spell of 12 unanswered points which briefly gave the Raiders hope. It was quickly and ruthlessly snuffed out as Leicester accelerated.
Ahead 47-26 at half-time, another 14-3 tear in the third period removed any doubts. Plymouth’s offense, usually their crutch, disappeared. Corletto, who has declared his intention to play for Scotland in next year’s Commonwealth Games, ended with 20 points but he was a lone beacon as Plymouth were left to contemplate the longest of journeys home. “They’re the benchmark of the BBL by a mile,” he said. “They came out, they competed and deserved to win.”
Now on a 16-game unbeaten streak, the Riders will now focus on sealing the league title over the next month. “But what I like about this group is they don’t get too far ahead of themselves,” Paternostro declared. “They just play.”
Sevenoaks Suns lifted the WBBL Trophy by beating mis-firing Leicester’s female counterparts 82-67 behind 21 points from MVP Anne Pedersen. Although the eventual victors were only 44-41 ahead at half-time, a 12-0 run in the third pulled them decisively towards a first-ever major prize.
“Defence is something we pride ourselves on and to play like that was a shock,” said Riders’ Scotland internationalist Dee Hayward, who scored 15. “But they’re a good team. They’re unorthodox and they make it tough and they deserved it on the day.”
BBL Trophy final (Emirates Arena, Glasgow). Leicester Riders 91 Plymouth Raiders 58. WBBL Trophy final. Leicester Riders 67 Sevenoaks Suns 82
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