The Molten BBL Play-Off Final has been set as Leicester Riders and Sheffield Sharks booked their spots in next week’s finale at The O2 Arena.
Sheffield saw their 11-point first leg advantage wiped out by a late surge from Glasgow Rocks, but recovered to record a 159-153 aggregate success, despite losing 73-68 on the night with Warren Gillis leading Glasgow with 25 points.
Meanwhile, Leicester advanced to their third final of the season after seeing off Cheshire Phoenix with a 183-147 victory on aggregate. Kinu Rochford finished with 31 points and 18 rebounds to lead Phoenix to a 92-84 road win with the damage already done in the first leg.
Molten BBL Play-Off Semi-Final, second leg
Sheffield Sharks 68 (14,30,52) (Hogg 20, Robinson 17, Brooks 16)
Glasgow Rocks 73 (15,35,55) (Gillis 25, Achara 15, Stephens 10)
Sharks win 159-153 on aggregate.
Sheffield Sharks withstood a late rally from Glasgow Rocks to advance to next week’s Molten BBL Play-Off Final with a 159-153 victory on aggregate.
Atiba Lyons’ side led by 11 after the first leg, but saw their advantage wiped out in the final quarter as a dramatic finish ensued before the Sharks managed to get over the line despite suffering a 68-73 defeat.
Brandon Hogg scored 11 of his 20 points in the first quarter, while Antone Robinson came up with important scores down the stretch to finish with 17 points and 14 rebounds and Jerrold Brooks added 16.
Mike Tuck opened the scoring with a three and the home side led for the majority of the first period, before the Rocks edged ahead in the final minute and began to find their range in the second as they opened up a seven-point advantage following a three from Riley Grabau.
The Rocks would go into the half-time interval with a five-point lead as they cut their overall deficit down to six. However, a trio of three’s from Brooks in an 11-3 start helped Sheffield move ahead by three on the night early in the third.
Warren Gillis scored seven straight on his way to a game-high 25 points in a 9-0 reply to help put the Rocks up 47-41 before their momentum was halted. Hogg landed a 3-pointer on the buzzer as the Sharks halved their deficit to go into the final stanza trailing 52-55, but with an eight-point cushion on aggregate.
A 7-0 run saw the Rocks open up a 10-point lead on the night and a three from Jonny Bunyan followed soon after to tie the encounter on aggregate with the Rocks up 69-58. Bunyan tied the game again to make it 71-60, but the Sharks dug deep down the stretch with a pivotal 6-2 run over the next three minutes before holding on to advance to the Molten BBL Play-Off Final at The O2.
Molten BBL Play-Off Semi-Final, second leg
Leicester Riders 84 (22,34,56) (Sullivan 20, Wright 15, Washington 13)
Cheshire Phoenix 92 (28,46,65) (Rochford 31, Huffor 22, Taylor 16)
Riders win 183-147 on aggregate.
Leicester Riders booked their spot in next week’s Molten BBL Play-Off Final at The O2 Arena after beating Cheshire Phoenix 183-147 on aggregate, despite losing 84-92 in the second leg.
Kinu Rochford produced a monster double-double with 31 points and 18 rebounds to ensure that Cheshire bow out with their heads held high following a crushing 44-point defeat at home less than 24 hours earlier.
For the Riders, they return to compete in the season finale for the first time since 2013 as they aim to emulate their historic treble achieved that same season.
Cheshire made a fast start with pride to play for with Quincy Taylor and Rochford combining to score all of their side’s points in an early 13-10 start, despite Tyler Bernardini’s hot opening from 3-point range. David Aliu connected with a triple of his own to give the visitors a six-point advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The visitors extended their lead in the second and went into the half-time break with a 46-34 lead with their overall deficit down to 32. Cheshire led by as many as 18 points in the third period, but the Riders managed to close within single figures by the end of the quarter.
The gap was down to as little as five points in the early stages of the fourth, but Cheshire restore their double digit advantage with Danny Huffor netting some big three’s on his way to 22 points.
Barry Lamble, playing in his final home game of his professional career, checked in to score four points late on before being taken out the game in the final minute for a well-deserved standing ovation.
Cheshire finished as 92-84 victors, but it’s Leicester who celebrate reaching another final as they set up a showdown with Sheffield Sharks at The O2.