BBL Cup final: Mersey Tigers 66-93 Sheffield Sharks

Jan 2011

Sheffield Sharks ceLebrate their emphatic win over Mersey Tigers

Sheffield Sharks romped to a 93-66 victory over Mersey Tigers to become the first side to retain the BBL Cup.

The Sharks, who just edged past Cheshire Jets in last year’s final, dominated league leaders Mersey.

Drew Sullivan opened the scoring for the Tigers but it was to be the only time they led throughout the game.

MVP Steve Dagostino netted a record 35 points, including eight three-pointers, and forward Mike Tuck added 18 of his own as Atiba Lyons’ side eased the win.

It is the third time Sheffield have claimed the trophy, the first silverware of the season, following last year’s victory over the Jets and their first win in 2004.

Mersey Tigers, who won the Cup in 2009, appeared to have the advantage going into the game, sitting comfortably at the top of the Championship, eight points ahead of Sharks, who lie fourth.

But Sheffield looked in control from the outset, taking a 20-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks to points from Tuck and Olu Babalola which cancelled out Sullivan and Andrew Thomson’s efforts.

Tigers were left to rue missed opportunities in the second stanza, hitting the rim and missing from close-range on numerous occasions.

They looked unsure how to handle in-form Tuck and Sharks capitalised on their frailties, and by the end of the first half, Tuck had netted 14 points, giving his side a comfortable 51-25 lead.

Looking refuelled going into the third quarter, Tigers went out to right the wrongs of the first half, and defensively they improved and appeared to be focussing their efforts on stopping Tuck in his stride.

Sullivan and David Aliu, who scored 17 and 21 points respectively, worked tirelessly to drag the Tigers back into it, but more mistakes proved costly for Tony Garbelotto’s side.

They only converted two out of 18 three-point attempts, the first coming from Aliu in the third quarter, and seemed to lack the precision which has been apparent in their league form.

And their woes increased every time Dagostino held possession.

The 25-year-old from New York, who is in his first season in Sheffield, netted 13 first-half points and continued to strike at every possible opportunity, hitting a total of eight from deep, three field goals and five free throws for a Cup final record.

Babalola added nine points to his five from the first half and, although the last scores of the game came from Jamal Williams, Sam Bogucki and Aliu for Tigers, it proved to be a mere consolation as Sharks took the Cup back to Sheffield for another year.
By Caroline Chapman
BBC Sport at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham


Guilford Heat 66-84 Mersey Tigers

5 March 2011

Mersey Tigers squad celebrate their BBL Trophy win


Mersey Tigers claimed the BBL Trophy for the first time in their history as they scorched past Guildford Heat at the O2 Arena.

Andrew Thomson scored 21 points to lead the Tigers and Great Britain captain Andrew Sullivan, named MVP, added 16 points and eight rebounds.

The Tigers, the current league leaders, hit a 22-0 run in the third quarter to decide an otherwise even game.

Carlos Medlock led Guildford’s scoring with 18 points.

  Mersey Tigers made the better start, leading 18-12 on the way to winning the first quarter with Thomson and Sullivan scoring seven points each.

Guildford powered back in the second quarter with six points in a row from former GB forward Julius Joseph, and after guard Nate Reinking and Thomson had splashed threes for Tigers, Guildford seized a narrow half-time lead with a late 7-0 run inspired by Medlock.

Although the Heat built on their lead briefly at the start of the second half as their captain Mike Martin became more of a factor offensively, the whole game unravelled for them in the space of five minutes.

First the Tigers got their fast break going, creating baskets for Tafari Toney, Thomson and Reinking in a 7-0 run.

After Guildford coach Creon Raftopoulos called a time out, Tigers upped the defensive pressure and exploded for another 15 points without reply, including a pair of threes from James Jones and four more points from Sullivan.

The game looked over as a contest, and Reinking’s three-pointer on the buzzer at the end of the third quarter brought his team their first 20-point lead of the night at 65-45.

The lead grew to 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Tigers cruised to victory against a dejected Heat team.

“I think in the first half the teams were feeling each other out – this is a new arena for most of us,” said Reinking, who completed the full set of winner’s medals in all four domestic competitions with the win.

“The second half we came out a little more aggressive, played a little better defence and just got rolling. We got some easy points and from that we just went to a nice lead.”

Reinking said he had no problems shooting on the court laid down for the NBA games, where the three-point line is almost a full metre further from the basket than the line used in the BBL.

“I like it,” said the GB sharpshooter. “I just like a wood floor, 10-foot rims, and an arena that doesn’t have lots of other lines on the floor. It makes it more fun.”

Heat captain Martin said his players “lost their focus” when the Tigers went on their decisive 22-0 run.

“We shot ourselves out of the game – we lost the quarter 29-8,” he said. “You’re not going to win any basketball game when you do that. We just lost direction.

“At the moment we’re lacking the mental toughness to play the right offence, play good defence and just communicate. We’re learning.”

By Rob Dugdale
BBC Sport at the O2 arena


BBL play-offs: Mersey Tigers 79-74 Sheffield Sharks

30 April 2011

 The Mersey Tigers team celebrate completing the domestic treble

Mersey Tigers claimed their second successive play-off title with a 79-74 victory over Sheffield Sharks.

The Tigers, who were looking for their third piece of silverware this season, opened the scoring through Jamal Williams and never lost their lead.

MVP James Jones netted 15 points to help them to 42-35 at half-time.

They went on to open up a 14-point gap and despite Ryan Patton leading a second-half fightback for the Sharks, the Tigers held on.

Tony Garbelotto’s side, who had already won the trophy and regular-season title, were out to avenge their heavy BBL Cup defeat by Sheffield back in January.

The Tigers’ defence put in an impressive show this time round and the Sharks’ key man, Steve Dagostino, was restricted to just five second-half points compared to the 35 he netted in the cup final.

Jamal Williams’ opener, followed by scores from David Aliu, Andrew Thomson, Tafari Toney and Nate Reinking, immediately put Sheffield on the back foot and they found themselves 23-17 behind in the first quarter.

 Tigers’ James Jones was named MVP

Sharks’ Paul Williams, who claimed 17 points in total, reduced the gap to two early on in the second quarter but Jones’ trio of three-pointers gave Tigers a seven-point advantage at the break.

Sheffield continued to plug away after the restart, with points from Michael Tuck, coach Atiba Lyons and Marcus Stout, but the Tigers responded every time and the final piece of play in the third quarter saw Perry Lawson and Tuck exchange three-pointers to leave it 54-48.

Reinking’s basket in the final quarter opened up a 10-point gap but the Tigers were penalised for fouls on several occasions allowing Patton to convert consecutive free throws.

But Jones was on hand to net his fifth three-pointer of the match and Aliu added a field goal to make it 70-58.

Despite the gap, the Sharks never stopped fighting and blistering post-to-post sprints from Patton resulting in three three-pointers gave them hope but late efforts from Reinking and Toney, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, sealed the win for Tigers.

By Caroline Chapman
BBC Sport at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham


BBL All Star Game Is Bitter-Sweet For KD

April 2011

The high flying Kadiri Richard stole the show during the BBL All Star Game at the NIA in Birmingham but the Eagles ace admitted to having mixed feelings despite being crowned MVP.

Having won the BBL Dunk Contest on his last visit to the National Indoor Arena earlier this year, Richard was again on top form, this time showcasing his full skill-set with a superb near triple-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists to help the Rest of the World to an exciting 119-115 victory over a BBL Great Britain select team.

Clutching his golden MVP ball, Richard admitted that while he had thoroughly enjoyed the perfect warm-up to the main event, it couldn’t make up for the disappointment of not featuring with the Eagles in the 2011 BBL Play Off Final.

“It was a lot of fun playing out there with the guys and it really was amazing just how close the camaraderie was after such a long and intensely competitive season.”

“There was a lot of friendship amongst the players but it was still very competitive.”

“I guess it was nice for me come back to the NIA and perform again after winning the dunk contest before the BBL Cup but I would rather be playing in the Final.”

“It was a tough season for us at Newcastle with those key injuries and it’s sad we aren’t playing in the last game of the season.”

“However I really do think that we did everything we possibly could in the circumstances to make it but we just ran out of gas.”

Richard wasn’t the only player to shine for the Rest of the World with Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders guard Ryan Zamroz claiming 20 points while the BBL also waved goodbye to veteran Tony Windless who recently announced his retirement as he left on a high note with four triples.

In fact it was the Riders who dominated the game with Liam Potter one of the stand-out players for Great Britain with a sparkling double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds while UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders forward Anthony Rowe finished an excellent campaign with 22 points and 11 rebounds.


Mersey Tigers celebrate completing the domestic treble