Myers three breaks Towers run

Mark Woods

Sheffield Sharks beat London Towers 82-79 in an enthralling finish to win the Uniball Trophy at the NEC. Sharks' American guard Terrell Myers proved himself the hero to drain a three pointer with five seconds remaining, ending Towers' hopes of a three-peat of Trophies, and winning Chris Finch his first trophy as coach. Sharks' assault on the prize they had not previously lifted was led by John Amaechi, who put on a display of NBA calibre to lead all scorers with 40 points, adding 16 rebounds and going 14/14 from the foul line, and deservedly picking up the MVP award.

Sharks had the better of the early exchanges as Amaechi signalled his intentions with Sharks opening six points. Team mate Mark Robinson, whose academic doctorate was finalised in midweek, proved the doctor with the tonic to add the next six to give the northern side a 13-8 lead. 9/9 free throw shooting allowed Sharks to end the opening quarter ahead by five points and a 7-0 streak early in the second extended their lead to 28-19. Towers' James Hamilton asserted some force inside to spark eight straight points for the holders but two baskets in response by Robinson gave him 12 points in the half and his team a 32-37 half time lead.

Sharks were dominating the boards, but both sides picked up the pace in the third quarter with Danny Lewis, almost anonymous in the first half, increasing his influence on the game. Towers defence stuttered and a rotation of players tried unsuccessfully to guard Amaechi, whose trademark spin move was proving unstoppable. As the quarter closed threes from Lewis and Tamir Berkovitch took Towers back to 55-58, but with their transition a pale shadow of Sharks', their hold on the trophy looked tenuous. Berkovitch opened the final quarter with a further three to tie the game but once again Amaechi and Robinson put on the offensive pressure. Bad luck struck Towers's forward Keith Robinson as his face connected with the elbow of team mate Marco Baldi, forcing his exit from the game on 13 points and 13 rebounds. Lewis came alight in the closing stages with 10 points in the last five minutes, with a pair of free throws taking his total to 23 and giving Towers a 79-78 lead with 32 seconds left. Hamilton's fifth foul sent Wil Johnson to the line to tie the game with 11 seconds left, but Lewis forced the rebound on the missed shot out of bounds giving Sharks one last possession. A Chris Finch time out gave Myers the inbound pass, and as Mark Robinson looked to feed Amaechi, Myers was slipped back the ball and fired a long three to send Sharks fans wild with delight.

Afterwards, All-Star Amaechi dedicated his win to suspended England coach Laszlo Nemeth and was delighted with both his first ever trophy in British basketball and a record Trophy Final scoring tally. "We just knew that they would be really hungry for this one, " said the MVP. "I'm just glad that the whole team got it together. It's a great start." Victorious coach Finch was happy to get his trophy collection off to a great start. "We just tried to prepare the guys as best we could. We knew it was going to be a tough game and it was. We just got the big shot."






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