Cheshire Phoenix Win BBL Trophy

BBL Trophy Final
London Lions 68-82 Cheshire Phoenix (16-22, 35-40, 55-61)

(Lions – D. Williams 24, Cugini 12, Robinson 12; Phoenix – Austin Jr. 23, Wright 18, Ochereobia 12)

Cheshire Phoenix have won the BBL Trophy for the fifth time in the club’s history, but first since they won it four times in a row up to 2004, after beating London Lions 82-68 at the Emirates Arena in Glasgowlive on Sky Sports.

Larry Austin Jr. was awarded MVP after a rugged double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds, with Cheshire scoring nine points directly from his five offensive rebounds, as he scored six of those himself on put-backs.

Lions were the defending champions, and the game was contested almost 20 years to the day when Cheshire previously beat them in the final of this competition, with many of the huge number of travelling Phoenix fans likely to have memories of that event too.

Cheshire set the tone early as Levi Bradley hit a three-pointer that sparked a 9-0 burst as Lions were scoreless for four minutes, and the run was capped by a pair of put-backs from Mike Ochereobia – Phoenix finishing with 15 offensive rebounds and 17 second chance points.

Austin Jr. made a tough ‘and-one’ play soon after, and when Namon Wright hit a three-pointer early in the second stanza the lead was double-figures at 26-16.

Phoenix never trailed from there, but could not quite shake the Lions off as Dirk Williams finished with a game-high 24 points, and it was still close as a two-shot game heading into the final quarter.

But Cheshire put the clamps on when it mattered most and didn’t allow London a score for the opening five minutes of the fourth, pouring in 13 points themselves, with Austin Jr. driving to the basket for the first two scores before Wright did likewise including an ‘and-one’ as an exclamation point, the score reaching 74-55 as the celebrations could begin early.

peaking to Sky Sports in the immediate aftermath, Head Coach Ben Thomas commented:

“I’m just so happy for everyone involved. The players, they played an amazing game today; defensively we were outstanding, especially in the fourth quarter. I’m made up for the fans, we brought a lot with us and they can enjoy it tonight.

“We knew that if we could deny their wings and really put pressure on the ball then we’d give ourselves a chance, and I thought the guys really bought into that.”

MVP Larry Austin Jr. added:

“We won some hardware and it’s great! Our fans travelled and it was like a home game for us. We’ve got a lot of emotions right now and we just need to soak it all in.

“I was just being aggressive. Defence is what gets me going, I love to rebound and be physical. But it’s a team effort tonight, all of us locked in on the defensive end and it’s all we were talking about.

“Our mindset was to be the tougher team, whoever wanted it the most was going to win tonight, and I believe we were the tougher team.”

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