One Health Sharks Sheffield forward Andrew Bridge (193-F-79) heads into Saturday's BBL Trophy final looking to collect both a record 19th winners' medal & a record 6th BBL Trophy winners' medal and he can't wait for the big game.
"It's great to be in a final for Sharks, I think it's the competition they've had the least success in, so first and foremost it's good to be in the title game after a tough start to the year. Obviously we're looking to win the game as we haven't been successful yet against the Riders this season, but we played them better last time. We stopped playing after 28 or 29 minutes which as frustrating and disappointing, but we simply have to make our shots for it to be a competitive game. That's how simple it is, make shots and we'll play with them if don't it'll be like the other times they've beaten us."
Bridge admits that has to pinch himself when he thinks about how many trophies he's won: "It's a bit insane from where I started to 18 winner's medals. There's a lot better players who have played in this league than me, but whatever people stay about the standard in different eras, you still have to win. I'm not as good as many of the players I've played with or against, but I have found a way to win and that's as important as as getting 20 points and ten points each night. In all of the teams I've been on I've had to make sacrifices to help make us a winning team. Whatever happens on Saturday, I can look back at my career and say I've helped make a winning team, and be happy with that."
Bridge has generally been on the side who are expected to win the finals he's played in, but he's not worried about the underdog tag: "it's not weird I, feel like every game we have a chance to win because we're better getting each week. It's not a surprise that we're the underdog, Riders have been good all year and if we reached the final the chances were we'd be playing a team higher up the league. We'll go in thinking we'll win. We can't approach it any other way. Any sports-person should approach a game looking to win it."
Bridge was delighted with the 102-74 hammering of Cheshire Phoenix which wrapped up their place in the final last week: "It probably went as well as it could have gone for us. We had a bit of good fortune with Marks and Gumbs out for them, but we came out as focussed as we have all year. We did what we needed to do, and that's pleasing. It's probably the most complete two-leg game that I've played in as far as my team doing what they needed to do. I didn't need to play much, which from point of view is good."
A defeat at London Lions on Sunday proved to be a dampener for both the Sharks and Bridge himself who was playing his 400th BBL Championship game: "I think we thought we are a little better than we are" admitted the 34-year-old.
"We'd just made a final and we let them play their kind of basketball in the first half. They took advantage and although we turned it into our kind of game in the second half we'd given ourselves too much to do. Maybe two games over the weekend and the long trip were too much for us."
There was drama on Saturday night as Bristol Flyers' clinched an exciting first ever home win in the BBL Championship against London Lions as a buzzer-beating three-point shot from Brandon Boggs (196-G-92, college: W.Carolina, agency: SPORTlab Agency) facilitated a 73-72 triumph. The other big headline was BBL Trophy holders Leicester Riders moving forcibly towards a return to the Final of the competition next month. A Taylor King double-double paved the way for a comfortable 91-71 succe... [read more]
There was drama on Saturday night as Bristol Flyers' clinched an exciting first ever home win in the BBL Championship against London Lions as a buzzer-beating three-point shot from Brandon Boggs (196-G-92, college: W.Carolina, agency: SPORTlab Agency) facilitated a 73-72 triumph.
The other big headline was BBL Trophy holders Leicester Riders moving forcibly towards a return to the Final of the competition next month. A Taylor King double-double paved the way for a comfortable 91-71 success in the first leg of their Semi-Final with Cheshire Phoenix.
Elsewhere, an eye-catching 28 points from Danny Huffor handed Worcester Wolves and 89-77 victory at Surrey Scorchers in the league, with the visitors completing a 3-0 BBL Championship sweep against their fellow Play-Off contenders.
Reigning BBL Trophy winners Leicester Riders look like they have one foot in another Final after taking a commanding 91-71 win in the first leg of their Semi-Final match-up with Cheshire Phoenix.
Taking advantage of the return of captain Tyler Bernardini and their opponents being without head coach Robbie Peers due to personal reasons, they wasted little time in getting onto the front foot and taking control.
Once again Taylor King proved handful and the forward was into double-figures by half-time as the hosts jumped into the box-seat with a handy 46-32 advantage.
While Cheshire worked hard to try and slow down their opponents, they had no answer and the hosts kept their foot on the gas, with King recording a 19-point and 11-rebound double-double.
The second leg takes place at Cheshire Oaks Arena at 5.30pm on Sunday, with Riders looking to finish the job and set up a meeting against Plymouth Raiders in the Final.
For the first time since becoming a BBL club, fans at Bristol Flyers watched their team record a historic BBL Championship success against London Lions on their home floor.
And, it came in the most dramatic fashion as Brandon Boggs launched a buzzer-beating triple to seal an absorbing 73-72 victory and break Lions' hearts.
For much of the game it had looked like Flyers would break their hoodoo in comfort and not least when they had fashioned a double-digit lead at half-time, as they headed into the third quarter with a nice cushion to lean on.
But, Lions had other ideas and came storming back to get themselves back into contention. Both a jump-shot by Zaire Taylor in crunch time and having shut down the Flyers offence to just eight points in the last nine minutes and 59 seconds of the contest, it looked like they would take a two-point win.
However, Boggs stepped up from the wing and hit the clutch-shot as the clock counted down, to spark scenes of jubilation at the WISE Arena.
Worcester Wolves strengthened seventh spot in the BBL standings after a powerful final quarter killed-off a comeback bid by Surrey Scorchers to seal a fine 77-89 road victory.
Having won their two previous meetings against their Play-Off rivals in the league, Paul James and his side made it three as they hit the ground running - perhaps capitalising on the momentum of their Trophy win on BBC Sport against Plymouth Raiders 24 hours earlier.
They raced into a 20-7 lead after the opening exchanges and while Scorchers looked like they might close the gap after an improved middle couple of quarters which cut the gap to just four points heading into the last period, Wolves shifted back up the gears to ease away again.
Danny Huffor continued his rich vein of form with a 28-point haul for Wolves.
Plymouth Raiders advanced to their first BBL final for five years as they overcame Worcester Wolves, despite losing 90-83 in the second leg. The Raiders had an 18-point cushion from the first leg but saw that advantage wiped out inside the first 15 minutes before recovering to complete the job. Donte Nicholas and Cory Dixon combined for 45 points for Plymouth, while Trevor Setty(203-G/F-89, college: Pikeville) had a game-high 26 points in an inspired display for the Wolves. Worcester m... [read more]
Plymouth Raiders advanced to their first BBL final for five years as they overcame Worcester Wolves, despite losing 90-83 in the second leg.
The Raiders had an 18-point cushion from the first leg but saw that advantage wiped out inside the first 15 minutes before recovering to complete the job.
Donte Nicholas and Cory Dixon combined for 45 points for Plymouth, while Trevor Setty (203-G/F-89, college: Pikeville) had a game-high 26 points in an inspired display for the Wolves.
Worcester made a strong start with an 8-2 opening to make their intentions clear early. The home side moved ahead by 11 with Setty impressing at both ends, whilst netting back-to-back threes.
Jermel Kennedy connected with his second to end the first with Worcester up 11 before they levelled the tie on aggregate with an 11-2 run to make it 43-25 on the night.
The visitors responded with a 10-0 run as Rhys Carter came up with a couple of big triples with Worcester hindered by foul trouble, despite their nine-point advantage at the half.
Wolves started the third with an 8-0 run to move back ahead by 17, but Nicholas hit back with two threes as the visitors kept their overall lead in tact.
Carter threw an impressive half-court alley-oop, finished by Dixon, then knocked down a three to spark Plymouth as they levelled on the night with a 13-2 run to start the fourth period.
The Wolves refused to give in a 13-2 run of their own made it 87-76 inside the final two minutes, but they ultimately fell short as the Raiders sealed the overall success.
Plymouth will play either Leicester Riders or Cheshire Phoenix in the Final at the Emirates Arena on March 19.
The BBL Trophy Final is the goal. The Emirates Arena is the destination. And four teams are locked in a battle this weekend to get there. Plymouth Raiders hold the advantage over Worcester Wolves as they take an 18-point lead into tonight's second leg, which can be seen live on BBC Sport. The Wolves need to win the leg by 19 points to advance to the final with the Raiders looking to end a five-year wait since their last final in 2012. Daniel Huffor(193-G/F-87, college: Newberry) has ca... [read more]
The BBL Trophy Final is the goal. The Emirates Arena is the destination. And four teams are locked in a battle this weekend to get there.
Plymouth Raiders hold the advantage over Worcester Wolves as they take an 18-point lead into tonight's second leg, which can be seen live on BBC Sport.
The Wolves need to win the leg by 19 points to advance to the final with the Raiders looking to end a five-year wait since their last final in 2012.
Daniel Huffor (193-G/F-87, college: Newberry) has called for his side to remain calm and stick to their game-plan rather than panic about the first-leg deficit.
"We know Plymouth will be a great test so we need to come in very focused and prepared with very little margin of error in the game," he said.
"We can't come in thinking we are down 18 and need home run plays right away. Our defence is key - if we can limit them and get easy transition points, we will have a chance.
"We just need to play our game-plan and see where we are in the fourth quarter and go from there."
Meanwhile, Leicester Riders and Cheshire Phoenix go head-to-head in a back-to-back with the first leg at the Leicester Sports Arena on Saturday.
The Riders have won both league meetings so far, but Phoenix have since strengthened and also have two former Leicester players amongst their ranks.
"We know it's going to be a competitive weekend with the chance of getting to final, which is always exciting," said Riders head coach, Rob Paternostro.
"They are an explosive team and defensively, we are going to have to be really solid."
There are also four league games taking place this weekend.
Bristol Flyers host London Lions on Saturday with the head-to-head on the line when they meet, while two teams in desperate need of a win clash as Manchester Giants welcome Leeds Force.
Also, Plymouth are back in action with a trip to Scotland to take on Glasgow Rocks on Sunday with Surrey Scorchers playing at home to Worcester tomorrow having seen Will Neighbour depart to New Zealand during the week.
All BBL games are available to watch LIVE over at livebasketball.tv via subscription.
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