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BBL final preview

Friday, 11-May-2012

As his side prepare for the BBL Championship play-off final against Newcastle Eagles, Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders' coach Rob Paternostro believes it's the title game everyone wanted to see:
"I think it's a final that most neutrals wanted with the top two sides meeting," he said. "By the end of the season we were the best two sides in the league, it should be a good game."
Tickets are available on the door or Saturday's showpiece game at the NIA in Birmingham, with the action starting at 1:30pm when an England Select team take on Scotland in a challenge game.
Paternostro has a good idea what to expect from the Eagles: "We've played them five times, and I think we're very familiar with each other.
"It was very impressive what they did on Sunday, they came back from a big deficit. I don't think anyone's surprised they're in the final. It was hard to bet against them at Chester, they have the talent and their guys they had done before.
"They're very versatile with a lot of guys can shoot so they stretch you out. Joe Chapman, Andrew Thomson and Charles Smith can really knock down three pointers, so it's important you limit their clean looks. We need to challenge them and force them off of clean shots."
Eagles head into the game sweating on injury problems which saw Paul Gause and Andrew Bridge both only play limited minutes in their semi-final second leg win at Cheshire Jets: "Gause and Bridge both picked up injuries on Friday night," said player-coach Fab Flournoy.
"They both tried to get out onto the floor on Sunday but were hampered. They will get to see the doctor early this week and we will go from there but I would hope that a full week to recover would be sufficient for them to be able to contribute fully on Saturday."
Despite having already won three pieces of silverware this season, Flournoy admitted that it would have been a major disappointment to miss out on playing in the season's final game: "Getting to the final is really important to us. Given the season that we have had it would have felt a little bit flat had we not been part of the final game of the season."
The game will see Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan facing one of his former clubs - having won eight trophies with the Eagles, and his Riders' team-mate Bradd Wierzbicki has praise for the London-born forward:
"Drew is so smart, and he does everything you need to do to win. He's been successful at so many levels, and there's a reason for that. He's a heady player, he's smart and talented. He's a fantastic influence on us, and calms us down. I can't believe that he didn't make the defensive team of the year, we were struggling a bit before he got here and he really changed things."
The final starts at 4pm on Saturday afternoon, with live coverage on Sky Sports 3 from 3:30pm.


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