Final Stats Giants fire Bullets to achieve Wembley glory
Mark Woods at Wembley
Manchester Giants are the Dairylea Dunkers Championship victors, taking the spoils at Wembley with a 74-65 defeat of Pertemps Bullets Birmingham in an enthralling contest.
Nick Nurse's team, narrow conquerors of Edinburgh Rocks at the last four stage, atoned for losses earlier in the campaign in the finals of both Cup and Trophy to capture the sport's domestic title.
The new play-off system has been rightly criticised for placing the destiny of the domestic title on the line in a single game, knock-out format. So it was justice served when the side with the best record all season long ended on top of the pile
"We learned our lessons in the first two finals," said a delighted Nurse (pictured right). "If I had my choice though I'd take this title, along with the Northern Conference, over the other two and that's what we've ended with."
Manchester started slowly however and conceded the first six points of the contest to the unfancied Bullets who rapidly built a 22-14 lead. In fact, it took until the second period before the favourites began to display the form which had taken them to the best record in the regular season, scoring ten unanswered points to go ahead 30-24.
Birmingham, whose coach Mike Finger was in charge for the last time before returning to the United States, cut the deficit to two points by half-time but as their foul tally rose, so did Manchester's ability to force the pace.
Inspired by Tony Dorsey and Travis Conlan, Giants embarked on a 13-4 burst which briefly stopped Bullets in their tracks but the Midlands outfit did not cave in to the pressure, racking off a 2-11 finish to the third stanza, capped by five points from Fab Flournoy .
Twice in the final quarter, they fought back to lead, setting up a tense finale. Yet it was Manchester who held their nerve, capitalising on their opponents' mistakes to close with an 11-1 run, enough to shake off the tag of runners up which had hitherto overshadowed their season.
Dorsey was rewarded with the Most Valuable Player award for his 22 points and 7 rebounds contribution - his third in Championship finals - a close call over Conlan who scored 19. Emiko Etete led Birmingham with 13.
Quarter by Quarter Scoring
1 2 3 4 Final Manchester 18 21 15 20 74 Birmingham 22 15 17 11 65
Photo: Nick Johnston, Tip Off
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