uni-ball trophy Final 2000
Lewis holds nerve to hand Towers the Trophy
Two foul shots from Danny Lewis with 23 seconds remaining secured the uni-ball Trophy for London Towers for the third time in five years, defeating Manchester Giants 74-73 after a tightly fought final at Birmingham's NIA.
It was hard on the Northern Conference leaders, who had matched their rivals all the way, but lost out at the very end.
"They're still the best team in the league," conceded Steve Bucknall. "It must be hard for them after running us so close but they have to bounce back now for the play-offs."
Manchester, who were out to defend the title they won last year, started in tentative mood and allowed the Southern Conference leaders to hit ten first quarter points in a row for a 14-6 lead which would be the biggest in the entire contest.
Nick Nurse's men converted just 3 of their 18 attempts from the field in that opening ten minute spell and it was not until Danny Craven came off the bench to notch six quick points that his team began to sparkle. Steve Bucknall hit 4/4 from the foul strip after a Phil handy technical foul but that pre-empted a 2-10 Giants run which took them into the break up 35-37.
Their advantage peaked with the opening four points of the third quarter but London's defence allowed them to come back, Donnie Johnson firing his way towards a game-high 21 points. Nonetheless, the holders led 53-55 entering the final period before Johnson contributed six in a 8-0 Towers burst which left them 65-59 in front with 6:42 left.
A belated run of points from Tony Dorsey, who hit 12 of his total 17 in the final quarter, kept it close and the American's pair of free throws regained the advantage for Manchester at 72-73 in the final minute. But after Lewis had regained the advantage for capital side, their opponents could not release a final shot, leaving Ron Abegglen's men to start the celebrations.
"I have a lot of respect for Manchester," said Abegglen. "They played us hard and came out and played real physical to shut us down in the second quarter. We were concerned about the Conlan and baker to shoot threes so we played zone to shut that out. But they are still a great basketball team."
Lewis, voted the game’s MVP, was ecstatic.
"When you go to the line with that pressure, any doubts and you’ll miss. We were so focussed on winning this trophy. Our guys stepped up and never gave up."
19 points from Roy Hairston led the Giants who have now lost in both finals this season.
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