The Cheshire Phoenix won the BBL Cup for the first time since 2002 when they beat the Worcester Wolves 99-88 in the final at Arena Birmingham.
Malcolm Riley led Cheshire’s scoring with 26 points and Robert Sandoval and Tevin Falzon added 12 each.
Michael Ojo hit 18 for Wolves, who also had 16 points from Dallin Bachynski.
In the WBBL Cup final, Nottingham Wildcats won their first final at the sixth attempt, 70-66 over Caledonia Pride with Ashley Harris scoring 19.
There was little to choose between the Wolves and the Phoenix in a first half when Worcester’s big man Bachysnki had the better of his highly anticipated battle with Cheshire’s seven-footer CJ Gettys with 13 points.
In the second half, the growing influence of Cheshire point guard Sandoval started to become the deciding factor. He controlled the ball and also hit nine points in the third quarter as his team posted the game’s first 10-point lead (67-55) with a three from former GB international Devan Bailey.
Sandoval then found Falzon twice with passes for crucial three-pointers in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 80-65 with a little over seven minutes remaining.
Although Worcester reduced the deficit to seven points with 69 seconds left with a three from Bachynski, the Wolves scored just three Ojo free throws in the remaining time.
Riley – who was most valuable player – admitted that Cheshire’s status as underdogs had been to their advantage.
“At the beginning of the season it was really hard and we took on an underdog mentality,” he said.
“We fought back in Newcastle and then we came down and beat the odds in London so for us to get here we had nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Cheshire coach Ben Thomas paid tribute to Sandoval’s second efforts. “He’s very much a confidence player, so coming out in the second half and getting to the basket straight away, that did wonders to Robert.
“We knew that if he could get into the lane he can create and he can score and that’s what happened.”
Worcester coach Paul James paid tribute to Cheshire’s defensive efforts. “They took us out of our sets and rhythm – defensively they were very solid and did a great job of shutting down our key players,” he said.
Nottingham had been to five WBBL finals in three seasons without winning one, and getting over the line was not easy against a tenacious Caledonia team playing just their second season in the WBBL.
Tricia Oakes matched Harris almost basket for basket in the first half and the Scottish team briefly took the lead, 24-22, at the start of the second quarter.
From then on, Nottingham never trailed but never managed a double-digit lead before Alyesha Lovett, who finished with 18 points calmed their nerves and secured the game with two free throws five seconds from the end of the game.
“We’re hoping that this is one of many,” said Wildcats coach Dave Greenaway. “We had to recognise that in [the previous finals] we’ve been leading and lost our composure. We found a way to make stops at opportune times and to make scores.”
“Nottingham played a really good game of basketball and it’s good that it was such a good
advert for women’s basketball in general,” said Caledonia’s Robyn Lewis. “And we represented ourselves well and that was important for us coming here – we can take confidence from the way we played for the rest of the season.”
Source: BBC Here