BBL: Cup Final too close to call

Either Newcastle Eagles or Plymouth Raiders will be crowned BBL Cup champions on Sunday and the league’s coaches are finding it too tough to call.

The season’s first piece of silverware will be contested at the Birmingham National Indoor Arena and Creon Raftopoulos, Tony Garbelotto and Paul James all believe that it could be the closest run final in recent years.

“This is probably the toughest and tightest cup final to call in a while,” the Guildford Heat boss Raftopoulos said.

“In the coaching department you have Fab Flournoy (Eagles) who has been there and done it all and in Gavin Love you have a coach who is contesting his first major final.

“Their teams are both strong and experienced and match up perfectly from one to five.

Raftopoulos believes that some of the head-to-head match-ups can be called but overall he doesn’t see a clear winner in the final.


“At point guard you would have to give that battle to Jeremy Bell over Paul Gause who has struggled with injury but don’t be surprised to see Fab guarding Bell on the day,” he added.

“Lehmon Colbert and Charles Smith is probably going to be the deciding factor in this one, Smith (Eagles) has the experience and know how in big games but Colbert is athletic and a good defender who can score.

“Eagles’ Defoe has added a consistent 15 foot jump shot to his game and that could give him the edge.

“Off the bench Gavin gets the vote with Anthony Martin, James Jones, Jamal Williams and (Tomas) Janauskas who are all experienced and capable of having big games.

“I think the fans are in for a classic and I’m sitting on the fence on this one.”

And Mersey Tigers coach Garbelotto agrees with Raftopoulos’ judgements that the Raiders have the better bench to call upon but sees the key battles going towards Newcastle.

“The interesting match-ups are Defoe against Williams, Rowe against Thompson and Gause against Bell,” he added.

“The key could be Plymouth’s bench. Anthony Martin is a game changer and he could come in and give Newcastle problems.

“I think this game will be a contrast of offence (Plymouth) versus defence (Newcastle).

“I think it will be decided by some small plays but I think with Newcastle’s big game experience, I have them winning by five points.”

Worcester were edged out at the semi-final stage as Plymouth Raiders progressed despite the Wolves winning the second leg and their coach James believes it’s the mental battle which is key.

“I have Eagles by a point or two, it really is that close,” he said.

“I think the key is going to be more in the mind than on the court.

“Plymouth have to go into the game believing they can beat Newcastle and win a championship.

“They have the squad and talent, so it’s whether Love can get his players up mentally and physically to do battle with Newcastle.

The BBL Cup final can be seen live on Sky Sports 3 from 3:30pm on Sunday.