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Leicester story has happy ending


Final Statistics

The Cinderellas found their glass reward and secured the happy ending predicted by coach Billy Mims.

Leicester Riders - tipped by virtually nobody to finish top of the heap this season - have picked up this season's BBL Championship at Wembley, defeating Sheffield Sharks 84-75 in a pulsating conclusion to the domestic season, captain Billy Singleton holding the glass prize aloft to the applause of a sea of blue supporters.

"We're the only team that can claim the double this season," grinned Mims. "We're Cinderella no more. We're double champions."

It all looked so different when Sharks were ahead 45-36 at half-time, Leicester displaying none of the sharpness which had taken the Cup holders through to a surprising final berth. 

But Riders' famous five starters rallied, despite losing sole bench contributor Karl Brown after just two minutes with a torn ACL injury, storming out of the interval with a 12-2 burst which put them into a third quarter lead which they would never lose.

With Mims again acting as cheerleader in chief on the sidelines - joined by a wheelchair-bound Brown, Chris Finch's Northern Conference champions were kept at bay, despite a 0-7 burst in the final period that cut the gap to just 70-68.

However they folded, missing 11 consecutive shots as Riders ran up seven points without reply, the departure of Terrell Myers - Sharks top scorer with 14 points - after his fifth foul near the finish only serving to unleash Leicester's ultimate euphoria.

"Everybody has us as underdogs," said Larry Johnson, who scored 24 points and was named as the finals' Most Valuable Player. "That just helped us get motivated to play."

Riders' Ralph Blalock led all scorers with 25.

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