- National Teams
Leicester Riders secured the BBL Championship title after beating Newcastle Eagles 84-73 at the LCS Arena.
It was a fourth straight win for the Riders over their closest rivals as they improved to a 29-3 record in the league by completing the series sweep.
Riders are @BBLofficial Champions! #WeRide pic.twitter.com/7trcvJF0Lr
— Leicester Riders (@RidersBball) April 15, 2016
Jamell Anderson top scored with 18 points, while TrayVonn Wright added 15 points and 13 rebounds to help the Riders seal their first league title since the 2012-13 season.
“It’s amazing,” said Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro. “When you win the league, you know that you deserve it because it’s a long, long journey with a lot of games.
“For our guys, with the schedule we had, it’s an incredible job by them. It’s an incredible night tonight, in a new arena to win the league in the first year is amazing.
“We ran really well. Our conditioning was excellent. I don’t think anybody would have been able to handle what we just handled with the schedule we had. Our conditioning has been strong all year and tonight we proved that.”
GB captain Drew Sullivan added on the historic night: “One of the things that we’ve been saying all season long is that [the arena] isn’t going to be home until we start making memories.
“We knew whoever won this game was going to be the team that won the league and to come out the way we did was amazing.
“We’ve worked so hard for this and it means so much.”
The home side opened up an early double-digit lead as they outscored Newcastle 29-19 in the first quarter. Fab Florunoy’s side battled back in the second to close the gap to just two points at 47-45 going into half-time.
A low-scoring third period saw the gap remain at two points, and the Eagles moved ahead at 60-62 early in the fourth as they looked to extend the title race despite being under-manned in the second half due to injuries.
However, the key run was produced by Leicester as they scored 10 unanswered points to establish a commanding 77-65 advantage heading into the final two minutes and they were able to close out the win to spark jubilant scenes.
The Riders were presented with the league title after the game and head into the playoffs as the top seeds with the possibility of a treble having also won the BBL Trophy earlier in the season.
Rob Paternostro’s side finish their regular season campaign in the capital against London Lions on Sunday, while Newcastle are on the road at Cheshire Phoenix.
Elsewhere in the BBL, Leeds Force defeated Manchester Giants 92-77 to move a step closer to their first venture into the post-season and will seal their playoffs spot with victory on the road against Surrey Scorchers on Sunday.
Marek Klassen put up 34 points and dished out 10 assists in the win, while Danny Huffor had an even bigger night for Cheshire Phoenix after contributing 38 points and 15 rebounds in their 92-99 win at Worcester Wolves.
The result meant Sheffield Sharks will finish in third place after easing to a 101-77 win over Surrey.
The regular season comes to a close on Sunday with all 12 teams in action.