The Sheffield Sharks have been crowned the new UK BBL champions after overcoming the Leicester Riders 84-77 in the title game. The showpiece of British hoops took place at London’s O2 arena, which has proved itself adept at hosting large Basketball events with the Euroleague Final Four and numerous NBA games.
On this occasion the O2 welcomed 15,000 fans as the Sheffield Sharks picked up its second BBL crown and first since 2004. As for Leicester, the city is celebrating a sporting miracle after its football club won the Premier League, but the Riders could not contribute to the feel good factor. Instead the franchise must be content with its two existing titles (2001 and 2013) and prepare for next season.
The Sharks entered the game as an underdog against Regular Season winning Leicester, but managed to disrupt the Riders offence and click through the fourth quarter to claim the win. The Riders started the stronger of the two teams, using a 22-18 first quarter for a 4 point cushion through the first split. In the second the Sharks circled and drained 26 points to snatch the lead at halftime, the scoreboard reading 44-43.
The momentum turned again in the third act as Leicester punished Sheffield with a 23-15 run that made it 59-66 through thirty minutes, the Sharks looked finished. However, a fourth quarter rally saw the Steel City contingent score 25 points and stop the Riders at 11 points, enough to turn the tide and claim the BBL title.
Mike Truck played 27 minutes from the bench as rewarded the Sharks with a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds, while the starting roster chipped in plenty too. Jerrold Brooks added 18 points, Kyle Odister 16 points, and T.J. Robinson 12 points and 7 boards.
Neil Watson topped the Riders with 19 points, followed by Connor Washington with 15 points and Trayvonn Wright with 13 points in the losing effort.