With no games scheduled for Leeds Force this weekend, we went from players to spectators as the Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders went head-to-head in the BBL Cup final.
The stage was set at the NIA in Birmingham as the undefeated Newcastle Eagles prepared to take on their rivals, the Leicester Riders.
The two teams are sitting first and second in the BBL Championship table at the moment and had actually not played each other yet this season.
When you play a team for the first time in the season, you have to account for the unknown and be ready to adapt to what you learn. The fact that, on top of this, it was an opportunity to claim the first piece of silverware of the 2015/16 campaign meant that tension was very high.
Previous years have seen these two teams battle in out in various finals and it has always been an exciting affair! This year it would be no different!
As the Eagles and the Riders took the floor, the sell-out crowd was buzzing. It was an electric atmosphere and the game followed suit. The opening quarter was a scoring masterclass from both sides as it concluded just three points shy of the record for most points scored in the first quarter of the final. The Riders held the narrow lead (28-25) and were determined to hold on to it.
The Eagles had another thing in mind. They came out for the second quarter and before you knew it, they had taken the lead. However, it was somewhat short lived as the Riders came back at them with a run of their own. The half finished with the score at 50 -41 in favour of the Leicester Riders.
This was the first time all season that Newcastle had been trailing at the half-time break.
In the third quarter, the Riders seemed to be well in control of the game having established a 14-point lead. A lot of teams might lose their heads in this situation but the calm and experienced Eagles were never panicked. They continued to play their game, trust what they do and managed to put together a 12-0 run to end the quarter which shifted the momentum well and truly in their favour.
The final quarter looked like it was going to be a thriller. The game was close and both teams were capable of making big plays.
The Eagles continued to chip away at the Riders’ lead until some huge plays on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor saw the undefeated Eagles take the lead and ultimately keep it and remain undefeated.
The final score was 94-82 as the Newcastle Eagles were crowned BBL Cup champions of 2015/16.
There were multiple inspiring performances on the night and it was a team victory by all accounts, but the final’s MVP honours went to Raymond Fletcher of the Eagles.
He was superb from start to finish and made some big shots down the stretch to help secure the win for his team. He finished with 18 points.
After a weekend of enjoying the spectacle that was the BBL Cup final, Leeds Force are back in action this week as we face the Sheffield Sharks at the EIS.
The Sharks have been in great form recently, so it will be a real test for us on our return to the court.