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Page last updated at 19:36 GMT, Saturday, 8 May 2010 20:36 UK

Everton Tigers beat Glasgow Rocks to win BBL play-offs

Tony Garbelotto and Jerome Gumbs
Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto (left) with guard Jerome Gumbs

Everton Tigers won their first play-offs title as Tony Garbelotto's men held on to beat Glasgow Rocks 80-72 at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena.

After last year's BBL Cup win, it was the Tigers' second trophy in their three years at this level.

Tigers were the better side overall but had some nervous moments after letting a 22-point first-half lead slip.

Trey Moore top scored for the Tigers with 22 points, Kevin Bell and James Jones adding 18 and 15 respectively.

Glasgow were led by 15 points from Robert Yanders and 14 each from Jessie Sapp and Mike Copeland.

Everton led from the start, Olu Babalola and Moore hitting four points each as the Merseysiders went 10-3 up.

Bell and Jones then hit three-pointers as Tigers hit a 13-0 run to lead 23-7.

Moore added three more in the second quarter, the third taking the lead to 41-21.

Those Tigers' first-half three-point successes must have been particularly galling for the Rocks, who found themselves invited to shoot when Everton set up from the opening tip in a 2-3 zone defence.

But, while both teams passed the ball reasonably well, Everton did it with more speed and executed their shots.

The Rocks, in contrast, missed all 15 of their long-range shots in the first half and did not connect from behind the arc until late in the third quarter, on their 18th attempt.

Starting the second half trailing 45-28, the Rocks injected more pace and aggression and avoided shooting. And their reward was a 12-4 run as Sapp and Yanders finally began to exert some influence.

Sapp's three, with 2:25 remaining, was followed by another 40 seconds later that reduced the arrears to 54-49 as the Rocks took the third quarter 25-11.

Everton were now the ones failing to execute their shots and the game was tied 56-56 by Yanders' three 44 seconds into the final quarter.

The Rocks then led for the first time two minutes later on a Michael Crowell three, but Everton's response was immediate.

Moore hit a three, then fed James Jones on the break for a three-point play. Bell splashed a three and then fed Andrew Thomson for another and the Tigers were 70-60 ahead with four minutes remaining.

Two baskets from Copeland gave the Rocks a chance, trailing by six points with a minute remaining.

But seven rock-solid free throws from Jones and Bell, later voted most valuable player for his all-round contribution throughout the final, steadied Everton's nerves.

And they held on in some comfort to win their second BBL trophy in two seasons.

Everton Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto said:

"We knew the Rocks would make some big shots because they're the best three-point shooting team in the league.

"We came back and almost won it last year because we didn't want to die and they didn't want to this year.

"We went back to man-to-man defence and then Trey hits that three, James Jones makes that incredible 'and one' and Andy Thomson hits that three off the pick and roll."

"Four weeks ago we were searching for a style of basketball that suited our players and I made the decision that we would play zone defence 90% of the time because we had players that were weak links in our man-to-man.

"My biggest worry coming in was that we couldn't produce another big game like the two we came up with against Newcastle last weekend."

Rocks coach Sterling Davis said:

"It would have been a very different game if we'd managed to keep it closer in the first half.

"Nought out of 15 was pretty bad. The guys had played hard but the shooting left us in a hole and we hadn't done a great job defensively."

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see also
Davis urges Rocks to seize chance
08 May 10 |  Basketball
Rocks & Tigers make the play-offs
26 Apr 10 |  Basketball
Tigers claim double BBL victory
29 Mar 10 |  Basketball

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