Riders and Sharks to Contest Molten BBL Playoff Final - Hoopsfix.com

Riders and Sharks to Contest Molten BBL Playoff Final

Leicester Riders will take on Sheffield Sharks in the Molten BBL Playoff Final at The O2 Arena this coming Sunday after enjoying contrasting semi-final victories.

The top seeds, Leicester, killed off their tie against Cheshire Phoenix with a crushing win on the road in the first leg, while Sheffield were made to sweat in a dramatic finish on home court.

Leicester Riders (1) v Cheshire Phoenix (7)

Confidence could not have been higher for the Phoenix following their first round victory over the defending champions, Newcastle Eagles. However, their anticipated encounter against the league champions quickly turned into one to forget for John Lavery’s side. The visiting Riders came flying out of the blocks and racked up 57 points in the first half – by which point they had opened up a commanding 27-point advantage. The gap continued to grow in the second half as the tie moved further and further beyond Cheshire’s reach as they eventually fell to an emphatic 55-99 defeat. Drew Sullivan shot 8-of-10 from the field on his way to 20 points, whilst adding seven rebounds and six assists. The home side made 14 of their 16 free throw attempts, but were held to 30% shooting from the field to virtually end their O2 hopes.

Cheshire came out with a point to prove in the second leg and were propelled to an 84-92 success at the LCS Arena by Kinu Rochford’s impressive 31-point, 18-rebound double-double. Rochford and Quincy Taylor combined for all of their side’s opening 21 points in an even start, before David Aliu’s three helped his side edge away. Cheshire established a 12-point lead going into half-time and led by as many as 18 in the third, before the Riders halved their deficit in mounting a revival with the lead cut down to as little as five points in the final period. However, Danny Huffor made some important triples on his way to finishing with 22 points as the Phoenix were able to secure a victory to end their campaign. Sullivan again netted 20 points for the Riders, while Barry Lamble scored four late on before receiving a standing ovation in his final home game of his professional career.

Riders win 183-147 on aggregate.

Sheffield Sharks (3) v Glasgow Rocks (5)

During the regular season, the road team prevailed in all three meetings between the two teams and that trend continued in the semi-finals. The Sharks made an emphatic start to the first leg at the Emirates Arena and led by as many as 26 points during the contest. However, the home side rallied and would eventually fall to an 80-91 defeat to keep themselves in contention for the return leg. Jerrold Brooks led the way for the Sharks with 25 points, while Mike Tuck added 20 to give their side a strong advantage to take back to Sheffield.

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