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Page last updated at 10:03 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 11:03 UK

Last-gasp Riders secure semi spot

Rob Paternostro
We have taken the fans on a roller-coaster ride all year and most of the time we have come up trumps
Rob Paternostro

Brad Wierzbicki's superb three-pointer saw Leicester Riders edge out Sheffield Sharks 72-71 in a thrilling BBL Championship quarter-final play-off.

Wierzbicki struck with one second left of a pulsating game at the John Sanford Centre to put Riders into the final four for the first time since 2001.

Coach Rob Paternostro told BBC Radio Leicester: "It was a phenomenal game.

"Sheffield played great but there is something about this team. It's a special group and we refuse to lose."

After an even contest that saw the lead continually change hands, Sharks nudged ahead 66-62 in the final period off the back of a 9-2 burst.

And a Justin Brown free-throw with 10 seconds left seemed to have won the game before Wierzbicki's late heroics.

An emotional Paternostro added: "In this gym this year we have played so many exciting games that it was fitting that our last game of the season should end like that.

"We have taken the fans on a roller-coaster ride all year and most of the time we have come up trumps."

Tommy Swanson led all scorers with 25 points for Riders, while James Whyte was the leading man for the Sharks with 17 points.

The Riders must now wait to see who they will be facing in the semi-finals that will take place on Saturday, 2 May at the NIA, Birmingham as part of the BBL Championship play-off weekend.



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