Riders crowned BBL Cup champions

BBL Cup Final
Leicester Riders 83-69 Manchester Giants (15-20, 45-28, 60-51)
(Riders – Crandall 26, Mackenzie 15, Lovett 12; Giants – Armstrong 18, Artison 12, Anderson/Steel 9)

Leicester Riders won the BBL Cup after beating Manchester Giants 83-69 in the final at Birmingham’s Utilita Arena. The Riders capped off a memorable afternoon in front of a record crowd for a BBL Cup final as a crowd of basketball fanatics turned out to be an incredible game that was also enjoyed by many other spectators in live on Sky Sports.

Geno Crandall was named MVP after dominating the showpiece event at both ends of the court. The Riders Point Guard scored 26 points, five assists and five rebounds in a standout individual performance. Crandall was at his sensational best, playing a starring role in an excellent team performance from the BBL Championship leaders.

Both teams put on a great show in the first quarter in front of an atmospheric crowd in Birmingham. The Giants took an early lead and found themselves slightly ahead after a hotly contested opening ten minutes.

If the first quarter belonged to the Giants, the second certainly belonged to the Riders who marked the game with their authority. Their attacking power shone through as they turned the score around to lead 17 at halftime. Geno Crandall was quickly becoming the star of the show, scoring an impressive 14 points in the first half. Tyrik Armstrong played an influential role in the Giants’ attempts to stage a comeback, contributing 18 points and four assists for his team.

The Giants came right back into the competition in the third quarter, scoring twenty-three points to cut the deficit to just nine points as the game headed into a biting fourth quarter. Although the Giants threw it all in the final 10 minutes, it was the Riders who reigned supreme in Birmingham. From Rob Paternostro’s side, they showed their quality throughout the final to secure the BBL Cup’s return to the East Midlands for the third time in franchise history.

Winning head coach Rob Paternostro was thrilled with his team’s performance on the big stage. He said:

“I thought from the second quarter our defense had them locked in, even if you don’t shoot particularly well you can be strong defensively and I think those guys did a great job. In the second quarter , we only gave up eight points and I think that’s what allowed us to take the lead.

“From day one we looked around and thought we had talent, real professionals in our camp. Our fans are doing a great job and I thought there was a great intensity and atmosphere inside the arena today. It’s a welcome sight for everyone to see the fans come back with us today.

MVP Geno Crandall said:

“I thought it was credit for the work we did during the week. As players you feed off the crowd, I was playing for our crowd and getting them involved myself and our guys were feeding off of that.

“We are an extremely consistent team and over the 40 minutes we have the ability to put teams away. It was great to play there in front of so many fans, that’s what it’s all about, I think it’s been a great event and weekend for British Basketball.

Of what was a crowd of nearly 10,000 at Birmingham’s Utilita Arena, BBL chief operating officer Andy Webb said:

“It was a great atmosphere inside the arena today for the top two teams in the BBL and both teams put on a truly entertaining spectacle. I want to congratulate Leicester Riders on winning the Cup BBL this afternoon and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings for all of our clubs It’s an exciting time for basketball in this country, with the recent investment deal and record crowds today it highlights the progress the league is making UK basketball has a bright future and today was just the start of that journey it really does feel like a historic moment for the sport and something something that we want to continue to capitalize on”.

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