Leicester Riders won the BBL Play-offs title for a third season in a row by beating the London City Royals 93-61 in the final at the capital’s O2 Arena.
Leicester’s defensive intensity again proved decisive in a final as they held London to just 25 second-half points.
Tim Williams led Leicester’s scoring with 20 points and Jamell Anderson and JR Holder added 17 and 14 respectively.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning crowned a fine season with 19 points for the Royals and Orlan Jackman added 16.
The Royals stayed in touch in the opening two quarters with a Leicester side that has regularly won trophies in the last five years and their former Great Britain player Bryan-Amaning looking to make his presence felt close to the basket towards the end of the first half.
Down just 44-38 when Jackman scored the first basket of the second half, the Royals then conceded 11 unanswered points in a run triggered by Leicester’s Holder and Williams.
After the Riders went on a further 11-2 run, inspired by three-pointers from Anderson and Pierre Hampton, the Royals were 24 behind and they posted just 10 points in a third quarter in which the final was all but decided.
Riders continue dominance
Leicester’s win – in their sixth final in the past eight years – is their third play-offs title and equals the feat of Kingston, Worthing and Newcastle, who also scored hat-tricks in the play-offs.
Leicester coach Rob Paternostro said he had expected a closer contest but believed his team’s improvement in the second half of the season, after the rigours of their European campaign, had been instrumental in the win.
“Coming into the play-offs we became more of a group that was locked-in, especially on defence,” he said. “I’m super-proud of how locked-in mentally they were.
“We just thought that we had to get back on defence – we felt that when our defence was set up, we were going to be really tough to beat in this game. There weren’t many adjustments to make.”
Royals coach Jay Williams said: “We struggled with consistency throughout the season but in the big games we showed up – but today we just didn’t.
“Hats off to the Riders – they came out and executed their game plan and they were consistent the whole time through.
“We played hard but we didn’t play smart and the Riders exploited that. But the main thing is – we didn’t show up.”
Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek will miss the Europa League final after rupturing his Achilles tendon in a charity friendly in the USA.
The 23-year-old went down clutching his left ankle in the first half of Chelsea’s 3-0 win over New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
Chelsea said the player had seen a specialist on Thursday and will now have surgery.
Chelsea play Arsenal in the final in Baku on Wednesday, 29 May.
England manager Gareth Southgate had earlier confirmed Loftus-Cheek would miss the final when announcing his squad for the forthcoming Nations League finals.
The player had been in the squad – but Southgate was forced to call up a replacement after learning of his injury.
“I went to bed last night and Ruben’s in the squad and playing brilliantly,” Southgate said.
“He misses now a major European final and a brilliant opportunity for us.”
He added it was a “huge disappointment” for the Chelsea man.
Loftus-Cheek scored in the second leg of the Blues’ Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt and has been directly involved in nine goals in his past 15 competitive appearances for Chelsea.
Wednesday’s friendly raised £3.1m for organisations which combat hate crimes.
Ross Barkley scored twice either side of an Olivier Giroud header in the comfortable win in Foxborough.
Prior to the game, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri had expressed his concerns about travelling to the US so close to a major European final.