The Leicester Riders were once again victorious in the Benecos BBL Playoff Final with a 93-61 Win over the London City Royals on Sunday Evening. The Riders are now back-to-back-to-back Playoff Champions becoming just the third team in BBL history to do so whilst also breaking the record for largest winning margin in a Playoff Final.
Tim Williams capped a tremendous post-season with another 20-point, 10-rebound display, making ten of his twelve shot attempts to claim the Most Valuable Player award.
There was little to choose between the sides in the opening stages, the first run of the game coming from JR Holder and Jamell Anderson combining for nine unanswered points to edge Leicester 16-9 in front.
London cut the gap to two, but Brandon Clark and Josh Ward-Hibbert ensured Riders were eight points clear at the start of the second quarter. Ward-Hibbert’s three-pointer briefly gave Leicester an 11-point advantage, but Matthew Bryan-Amaning set about dragging his team back into the game leading a 13-4 charge which cut the deficit to 30-28.
An Andy Thomson triple gave Riders some breathing room and Williams pushed the lead to 37-30, before a JR Holder triple on the buzzer saw Riders head into the interval with an eight-point lead.
The onslaught was still to come, though, Riders came out of half-time in rampant form, Holder and Williams scoring at will whilst the defence was almost impenetrable. Having scored the first basket of the half, London didn’t trouble the scorers again for four minutes by which time they were already 55-38 adrift.
But it didn’t stop, Anderson and Hampton scored from behind the arc as Riders started the second half with a 19-4 run and the game was almost done with 14 minutes remaining.
Whilst London reverted to individual play, Riders kept their team ethos and the lead continued to balloon. Only with six minutes remaining did the Royals manage to get to 50 poijnts, but they were already staring down the barrel of the heaviest defeat of in play-off final history.
Youngster Lucien Christofis bagged a three on Riders’ final offence, to ensure them the biggest lead on the final buzzer and a stunning 32-point success.
Whilst Williams took the award, Riders got performances from all over the place with Holder adding 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, whilst Anderson, Washington and Ward-Hibbert all played key roles.
Riders became only the third team in BBL history to win three consecutive play-offs and as he hoisted aloft the trophy, captain Andy Thomson celebrated his 20th title, only the sixth player to reach the mark and his seventh play-off title, something only the legendary Alan Cunningham has bettered.
Riders: Williams 20, Holder 17, Anderson 14, Washington 11, Ward-Hibbert 10, Clark 9, Hampton 5, Thomson 3, Christofis 3, Lascelles 1, Gamble, Douse.
Royals: Bryan-Amaning 19, Jackman 15, Toluwase 8, Hamilton 7, Lucas 3, Dusha 2, Neighbour 2, Dang Akodo 2, Rogers 2, Roberts 1.