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Towers are crowned at Wembley

Lee Ridley 

London Towers capped their 1999 season on a high at Wembley Arena, lifting the Budweiser Championship title with a 82-71 defeat of Thames Valley Tigers.  

As so often in the past, Towers had to give thanks to guard Danny Lewis, the man from Kalamazoo so instrumental as the capital side erased a 32-43 deficit. The American went on a third quarter scoring spree, its co-incidence with Tigers scoring drought the key to their eventual success.   

Championship MVP Danny Lewis was delighted afterwards. "This is a great feeling. We've been having so much success with the Towers throughout my years but to finish a five year career here with a MVP is a feeling I can't even express. I owe it all to the guys. To get the chance to prove ourselves at the end of the season which we didn't get to do at the beginning of the season is a great feeling. I give the biggest credit the my team-mates." 


Towers celebrate their success                       Pic: Mansoor Ahmed

Behind 32-39 at the half against a Thames Valley team who were without star guard Casey Arena because of injury, the Towers went on an 10-0 run halfway through the third quarter to take the advantage at 47-46. Five points from Malcolm Leak and a slam dunk from  Lewis helped increase that lead to 54-48 going into the final quarter. The deficit between the two teams was furthered to 59-50 at the start of the fourth following bad play from the Tigers team.  

Thames Valley were to pull it back to 65-59 with 6:00 to play but that was as close as they would come as London were set on fire. Four points from Lewis and two from Leak as well as two from Martin Henlan in an explosive period of basketball effectively ended any hope that the Tigers had of winning the game with the score at 75-64. Thames Valley became more and more frustrated as they failed to make vital shots and a Randy Duck reverse dunk summed up the second half as Towers took the biggest lead of the game at 80-66. As the London fans started celebrating, Tigers went on a 2-5 run to end the game but, for the second successive season, they had made it to the Wembley final only to come away with nothing. 

Earlier in the game, eight points from John McCord had helped Thames Valley into a 9-12 lead and they then went on a 5-9 run to end the opening quarter 14-21 ahead. At 21-25 with 7:00 to go in the second, the Tigers then frustrated the Towers as eventual top scorer Bryan Basler (who notched 22 points total) helped them go into the half 32-39 in front. 

However, London's second half play proved to be too much for Paul James' battling Thames Valley and Towers picked up their first piece of silverware this season and made it their second in their last three Wembley outings. 

Towers scoring was led by Malcolm Leak with 20, while John McCord, in perhaps his swansong as Tigers, notched 16 points and 10 rebounds. 

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