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Page last updated at 19:06 GMT, Sunday, 16 January 2011

BBL Cup final: Mersey Tigers 66-93 Sheffield Sharks

Sheffield Sharks
Sheffield Sharks celebrate their emphatic win over Mersey Tigers

By Caroline Chapman
BBC Sport at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham

Sheffield Sharks romped to a 93-66 victory over Mersey Tigers to become the first side to retain the BBL Cup.

The Sharks, who just edged past Cheshire Jets in last year's final, dominated league leaders Mersey.

Drew Sullivan opened the scoring for the Tigers but it was to be the only time they led throughout the game.

MVP Steve Dagostino netted a record 35 points, including eight three-pointers, and forward Mike Tuck added 18 of his own as Atiba Lyons' side eased the win.

It is the third time Sheffield have claimed the trophy, the first silverware of the season, following last year's victory over the Jets and their first win in 2004.

Mersey Tigers, who won the Cup in 2009, appeared to have the advantage going into the game, sitting comfortably at the top of the Championship, eight points ahead of Sharks, who lie fourth.

But Sheffield looked in control from the outset, taking a 20-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks to points from Tuck and Olu Babalola which cancelled out Sullivan and Andrew Thomson's efforts.

Tigers were left to rue missed opportunities in the second stanza, hitting the rim and missing from close-range on numerous occasions.

They looked unsure how to handle in-form Tuck and Sharks capitalised on their frailties, and by the end of the first half, Tuck had netted 14 points, giving his side a comfortable 51-25 lead.

Looking refuelled going into the third quarter, Tigers went out to right the wrongs of the first half, and defensively they improved and appeared to be focussing their efforts on stopping Tuck in his stride.

Sullivan and David Aliu, who scored 17 and 21 points respectively, worked tirelessly to drag the Tigers back into it, but more mistakes proved costly for Tony Garbelotto's side.

They only converted two out of 18 three-point attempts, the first coming from Aliu in the third quarter, and seemed to lack the precision which has been apparent in their league form.

And their woes increased every time Dagostino held possession.

The 25-year-old from New York, who is in his first season in Sheffield, netted 13 first-half points and continued to strike at every possible opportunity, hitting a total of eight from deep, three field goals and five free throws for a Cup final record.

Babalola added nine points to his five from the first half and, although the last scores of the game came from Jamal Williams, Sam Bogucki and Aliu for Tigers, it proved to be a mere consolation as Sharks took the Cup back to Sheffield for another year.

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