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Sheffield Sharks produced a strong final quarter effort as they came from behind to win the 2016 Molten BBL Play-Off Final with an 84-77 victory, at The O2 Arena.
Mike Tuck picked up the Finals MVP award after a hugely influential display with 20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Jerrold Brooks scored eight of his 18 points in a pivotal 14-0 spell down the stretch.
The triumph marks Sheffield’s first BBL title since 2013 and their first in the Playoffs for 12 years having previously lost the final in 2011.
“I’m in complete shock right now – I can’t believe it,” said Tuck, post-game.
“We’ve played hard, we’ve worked so hard all year, this is the icing on top. I’m so pleased we came through today.
“I’m the type of guy that wears his heart on his sleeve out on the court and I knew if I did that from the start the rest of the guys would follow.”
He continued: “It’s been a crazy up-and-down season with new players and injuries and something like this makes it all worthwhile.
“Everybody stepped up, from our bench guys to our starters. Big-time players step up in big-time situations and we did that today.
“It came down to defence and getting stops and we really stepped it up. We stopped their scorers and got it done on the other end.”
— Hoopsfix (@Hoopsfix) May 8, 2016
The Riders led by as many as seven points at the end of the third period, but saw their bid for a historic treble fall short in front of over 12,000 fans despite a combined 32 points from Neil Watson and Conner Washington.
The enthralling season finale began with a TrayVonn Wright dunk on the opening possession, but the Sharks settled with Tuck asserting himself early with six points to help his side into a six-point advantage at 13-7.
Wright picked up his second foul and would sit the rest of the half, but the Riders bench made an immediate impact before 3-pointers from Watson bookended a 12-2 close to the quarter to put the Riders up by four.
The barrage from downtown continued at the start of the second as Tyler Bernardini got in on the act to extend the lead to seven. Sheffield tied the game at 30-30 with a 10-3 burst before a 3-point frenzy ensued with Washington making three consecutive triples as he raced to 15 points.
Sheffield held their own from downtown and Brandon Hogg’s late triple – their eighth of the half – gave his side a slender advantage to take into the half-time interval at 44-43.
Both teams traded baskets early in the third as a tightly-contested Final continued with Sheffield edging ahead at 59-56 before Leicester put together a 10-0 run to close the period with their largest lead of the game.
Tuck ended a six-minute drought for his side, but the Riders were still in control with a 71-66 advantage with 6:14 remaining following another Bernardini three.
The Sharks then went on a remarkable 14-0 run as they kept their opponents scoreless for over five minutes with Brooks netting eight points including a go-ahead 3-pointer in a decisive spell that made it 80-71.
Drew Sullivan managed to cut the gap with a late three, but the damage had been done and the Sharks wrapped up the victory to seal the title.