- National Teams
Cheshire Phoenix will take on London Lions in the 2024 BBL Trophy final after defeating Leicester Riders 92-91 in Birmingham, on Saturday evening.
Laquincy Rideau came up with the game-winning drive in the final seconds as Cheshire held off a late fightback to set up a repeat of the 2022 final with the Lions, who earlier won the first semi-final.
Aaryn Rai top scored with 27 points and 11 rebounds with Skyler White knocking down six threes in a 22-point haul and Rideau finishing with a double-double of 15 points and 13 assists.
Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie opened the scoring with a three before Jaren Holmes and Miryne Thomas both came up with big plays to help create a 14-5 lead. Mo Walker was also instrumental early on cleaning up on the glass with multiple putbacks.
Rideau and Rai converted and-1s on successive possessions to spark an 11-2 response, but Leicester held on to their cushion to lead 22-18 through 10 minutes.
Cheshire then made another strong move at the start of the second with a four-point play from Cam Holden capping a 12-2 run to surge in front. The Riders halted their charge to keep it close, only for Ben Thomas’ side to score the final 10 points of the half to lead 46-34 with Rai leading the way with 13 points.
White hit back-to-back triples when play resumed to quickly push the lead to 18 points. Walker then connected with just Leicester’s second three-pointer as they looked to stay in the contest.
Teddy Allen picked up the scoring mantle in the midst of a tough shooting night and moved to 15 points, though the Riders still trailed in double digits at 69-57 heading into the final quarter.
That gap was cut in half through five quick points from Allen, but White would connect with two more threes out of a timeout to restore Cheshire’s commanding 89-77 lead entering the final three minutes.
Just when it looked like it was done, back came the Riders with the next 11 points including three successive triples from Thomas, Mackenzie and Holmes.
One-point game inside the final minute: Cheshire used up half of that time with a big offensive rebound, but White could only split a pair of free throws – leaving the door open for Leicester, and up stepped Mackenzie with a huge and-1 drive to take the lead with 18.9 left on the clock.
Rideau put Cheshire on his back with the crucial score through contact, and despite missing the extra free throw, it was his side celebrating at the buzzer as they head into Sunday’s final.
– Cheshire Phoenix were beaten in last year’s Trophy final, but won the competition in 2022
– Leicester Riders’ last Trophy final appearance came in 2018
– Cheshire starters: Rideau, Rai, Holden, White, Stephens
– Leicester starters: Mackenzie, Allen, Thomas, Walker, Holmes