BBL play-off final: Leicester Riders beat London Lions to claim treble

BBL play-off final: Leicester Riders beat London Lions to claim treble
BBL play-off final: Leicester Riders beat London Lions to claim treble

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Champions Leicester Riders completed a season treble of BBL titles as they beat London Lions 81-60 to win the Play-off final at London’s O2 Arena.

Pierre Hampton scored 19 points for Leicester, while Tyler Bernardini and JR Holder added 17 points each.

Brandon Peel (22) and GB international Paul Guede (10) were London’s main men.

The Lions stayed in touch for most of the first half but struggled to stop the Riders, failing to hit a single long-range shot in the second half.

Lions had the better of a tense, tight first quarter when both teams could manage only three field goals each, leading 14-12.

But Leicester seized the initiative with some strong finishing as they took the second quarter 27-14.

Pierre Hampton inspired an early 10-0 run and, although Guede hit two threes in reply for London, Leicester had another 8-0 run before half-time, inspired by the final’s most valuable player TrayVonn Wright, to lead 39-28 at the interval.

The Riders edged a messy third quarter 19-15, during which London lost back-up centre Dzaflo Larkai in a scuffle with Shane Walker. That had little impact on the result, however.

Guede’s second-quarter threes proved to be the only ones the Lions hit in the entire game, their shooting deserting them as it had in the tied semi-final first leg against Glasgow a fortnight previously.

This time they did not escape and only a short scoring burst in the last two minutes of the game prevented them setting a new lowest score in the 31 years of BBL Play-off finals.

Leicester v London: The stats

  • This was Leicester’s eighth BBL trophy – out of a possible 12 – in the past three years.
  • Lions, runners-up in the BBL this season behind Leicester, have still lost only six of their 24 games since owner Vince Macauley replaced Mariusz Karol as coach in early January.
  • Riders coach Rob Paternostro’s team have already equalled the record of Kingston (1990-92) and Newcastle (2008-10) as league winners three years in a row.
  • The Lions’ only title remains their Cup win in 2008, when they were the Milton Keynes Lions.
  • Since moving to the Copper Box in 2013, London have now lost two Play-off finals, having also been beaten by Newcastle in 2015.

Super League: Magic Weekend could move to New York

Super League: Magic Weekend could move to New York
Magic Weekend at Newcastle's St James' Park

The Rugby Football League has confirmed that New York is one of the options to host next year’s Magic Weekend.

The annual Super League event was held for the 12th year this weekend and for the fourth time in a row in Newcastle.

The RFL is considering a new host city and, asked if one of them is New York, chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer said: “Yes, we have lots of offers.

“There is plenty of interest in it. Newcastle is a really good venue, but it could well move at some point.”

The Magic Weekend sees a whole round of Super League fixtures held at the same stadium over the same weekend, Cardiff being the first host in 2007.

It has since been staged in Edinburgh and Manchester before moving to Newcastle’s St James’ Park in 2015, with the highest weekend attendance of 68,276 coming in 2016.

Following Toronto Wolfpack’s formation in 2017, plans for a New York team have been submitted and England play New Zealand in Denver on 23 June.

Rimmer told 5 live sport during this year’s Magic Weekend: “Originally the vision was to put together a property that had some commercial value and also allowed us to spread the gospel, if you like.

“We’ve got some real value in the property so there are plenty of cities – and you’ll be surprised at some of them – that contact us saying ‘would we contemplate them?’

“They would offer some money for it because, in the end, you get a good-natured crowd that have a great time, probably eat and drink their own body weight and create a carnival atmosphere, and any city would want a property like that.

“It’s important that we use it in the right way, we protect the property and use it to project the game forward.

“That means that, if you do move it, you have to make sure it joins up the dots with what you’re trying to achieve strategically.”

French Open: Milos Raonic pulls out of Roland Garros with injury

French Open: Milos Raonic pulls out of Roland Garros with injury
Milos Raonic

World number 22 Milos Raonic has pulled out of next week’s French Open with injury.

Raonic, 27, has struggled with a knee issue in recent weeks and withdrew from the Monte Carlo Masters last month.

The Canadian reached the 2016 Wimbledon final, losing to Andy Murray, while his best result in Paris came in 2014 when he reached the quarter-finals.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am withdrawing from Roland Garros,” Raonic said on Twitter.

“I know I need to continue working hard to put myself in the best position when I step out on the court.

“Thank you all for your support and see you soon on the grass.”

The French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year, starts in Paris on 27 May.

Raonic is due to play at the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s, which starts on 18 June, while Wimbledon begins on 2 July.

Nadal to return to top of world ranking after eighth Italian Open title

Nadal to return to top of world ranking after eighth Italian Open title
Breaking news

Rafael Nadal survived a stunning fightback from Alexander Zverev to win an eighth Italian Open.

Nadal cruised to the first set before defending champion Zverev won nine of the next 12 games to take the second set 6-1 and lead 3-2 in the decider.

But Nadal turned the match around following a lengthy rain delay and closed out a 6-1 1-6 6-3 victory.

The win will see Nadal regain the world number one ranking before the French Open which starts next week.

Roger Federer had regained top spot in the rankings when Nadal lost to Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Masters last week, his only defeat on clay this season.

Nadal has now won three clay-court titles from four tournaments in the lead-up to his bid for an 11th French Open title in Paris.

More to follow.