Sainsbury's Classic Cola Cup Men's Final: Sharks 67-65 Leopards
Westfield Sharks Sheffield emerged victorious from a thrilling National Cup Final at Sheffield Arena, defeating adidas Greater London Leopards 67-65. In one of the classic finals of recent years, the underdog Londoners came so close to pulling off an upset.
Most Valuable Player Terrell Myers (right) led all scorers on 29 points, including the game winning basket with 23 seconds left, the American shooter an inspiration to his team. His trumpeted match up with new Leopards signing Rashod Johnson failed to materialise, instead Tim Moore proved himself the leader of his team with a 25 point tally.
Both sides found their offensive rhythm early in the opening half, the hometown favourites shooting well. Leopards biggest lead came at 20-15 midway through the first 20 minute session through a dunk from Robert Youngblood but Sharks never looked troubled.
A three pointer from Iain McKinney gave the favourites grabbed their first lead late in the half and baskets from Myers and the excellent Travis Conlan ensured a 39-36 half time lead for the Yorkshire men.
Upon the re-start, Sharks seized the initiative, their defensive control setting the way for runs of 6-0 and 8-0 to lead 53-42 after only 5 minutes and it seemed as though Billy Mims' team were destined for a heavy loss. However Sharks offensive seized up, a victim of additional defensive intensity from Leopards backcourt. The reigning Budweiser League champions embarked on a 13-0 run, holding Sheffield scoreless for six minutes and with as many minutes left in the game, a basket from Youngblood put them 59-58 in front.
The hitherto quiet Burks extended the lead to three soon after but Sharks rebounded for a 65-63 advantage with 2:34 left. Tim Moore extended his team high total with one of two from the line to tie the game, but just as in last year's Trophy final, Myers donned his hero's hat for the victory grabbing shot.
"We played a little tight all game," commented a delighted Sharks' coach Chris Finch, "and Leopards came out and hurt us. We missed some easy shots but found a way to win. However as big as this game is, we're going for the League and so we have to savour this now and get back to work on Tuesday."
Scoring by Half
1 2 Final Sheffield 39 28 67 Leopards 36 29 65
She: Myers 29, Conlan 16
Leo: T Moore 25, R Johnson 15, Youngblood 15
Photo: Mansoor Ahmed
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