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Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Saturday, 5 March 2011

Guildford Heat 66-84 Mersey Tigers

Mersey Tigers
The Mersey Tigers squad celebrate their BBL Trophy win

By Rob Dugdale
BBC Sport at the O2 arena

Mersey Tigers claimed the BBL Trophy for the first time in their history as they scorched past Guildford Heat at the O2 Arena.

Andrew Thomson scored 21 points to lead the Tigers and Great Britain captain Andrew Sullivan, named MVP, added 16 points and eight rebounds.

The Tigers, the current league leaders, hit a 22-0 run in the third quarter to decide an otherwise even game.

Carlos Medlock led Guildford's scoring with 18 points.

Mersey Tigers made the better start, leading 18-12 on the way to winning the first quarter with Thomson and Sullivan scoring seven points each.

Guildford powered back in the second quarter with six points in a row from former GB forward Julius Joseph, and after guard Nate Reinking and Thomson had splashed threes for Tigers, Guildford seized a narrow half-time lead with a late 7-0 run inspired by Medlock.

Although the Heat built on their lead briefly at the start of the second half as their captain Mike Martin became more of a factor offensively, the whole game unravelled for them in the space of five minutes.

First the Tigers got their fast break going, creating baskets for Tafari Toney, Thomson and Reinking in a 7-0 run.

After Guildford coach Creon Raftopoulos called a time out, Tigers upped the defensive pressure and exploded for another 15 points without reply, including a pair of threes from James Jones and four more points from Sullivan.

Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Sullivan was named MVP

The game looked over as a contest, and Reinking's three-pointer on the buzzer at the end of the third quarter brought his team their first 20-point lead of the night at 65-45.

The lead grew to 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Tigers cruised to victory against a dejected Heat team.

"I think in the first half the teams were feeling each other out - this is a new arena for most of us," said Reinking, who completed the full set of winner's medals in all four domestic competitions with the win.

"The second half we came out a little more aggressive, played a little better defence and just got rolling. We got some easy points and from that we just went to a nice lead."

Reinking said he had no problems shooting on the court laid down for the NBA games, where the three-point line is almost a full metre further from the basket than the line used in the BBL.

"I like it," said the GB sharpshooter. "I just like a wood floor, 10-foot rims, and an arena that doesn't have lots of other lines on the floor. It makes it more fun."

Heat captain Martin said his players "lost their focus" when the Tigers went on their decisive 22-0 run.

"We shot ourselves out of the game - we lost the quarter 29-8," he said. "You're not going to win any basketball game when you do that. We just lost direction.

"At the moment we're lacking the mental toughness to play the right offence, play good defence and just communicate. We're learning."



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