The Everton Tigers were entertaining their closest BBL rivals the Cheshire Jets.
The Tigers had just won the BBL Cup so celebrations were guaranteed but nobody was sure what kind of a night we were going to have.
Would the hundreds of fans who made the trip to Birmingham for the BBL Cup Final last Sunday turn out for this BBL Trophy group game? The answer was an emphatic yes!
The BBL Cup was in the house but Head Coach Garbelotto didn’t want too many celebrations as I think he is a bit superstitious about that kind of thing and I think he didn’t want to motivate the opposition in any way what-so-ever.
So the players stayed away from the Cup and Toxteth the Tiger was the one who brought it into the arena.
But none of that would matter as the game got on the way.
The Cheshire Jets who had had stinging criticism from Bada in his BBL Blog, following the recent game against the Newcastle Eagles were up for this one.
The Tigers started with Gross, back from suspension, Dorsey, back from injury, Smith, Midgley and Bailey. For the Jets it would be Calvin Davis, Shawn Myers, Steven Gayle, James Hamilton and Chez Marks.
The first score of the game would see Tigers guard Midgley nail a monster three with Dorsey getting the assist. The Jets would answer immediately with their own three from Chez Marks.
It would be a long time in this game before the Jets would lead by as many as three again.
In this first quarter it was a back court extravaganza as Midgley would score 12 points all coming from beyond the arc and Marks would nail 13 points, three coming from downtown. This was a joy to see. Steven Gayle had picked up 5 while Gross and Dorsey had 4 a piece.
BBL Cup MVP Andre Smith, who had failed to score so far, picked up 2 early fouls and had to sit.
At the end of the first it was 24 to the Tigers and 28 to the Jets. Dorsey had just 4 points but he had dished up 3 assists one of them a most beautiful thing to behold. Midgley was 4 for 4 from beyond the arc. For the Jets Marks was 3 for 3 from the arc and 5 for 5 from the field.
The second was more of the same as now Olu Babalola would get into gear and score 13 points while Midgley would nail another 2 threes. The Midge now had 18 points yet had not scored from within the arc neither had he gone to the line.
The score at the end of the half was 48 to the Tigers and 50 to the Jets. With 6 minutes left to play in the 2nd, the Jets had led by as many as 11 after great work by Phifer who had 10, Gayle also with 10 and Marks who had moved on to 20, but Babalola, Midgley and 5 from Del Herriman would ensure that the 11 point deficit was cut back to just 2 at the break.
This weekend sees the Chinese New Year, the Year of the OX and to celebrate this event, the Tigers had invited Fenfen Huang, a Chinese and contemporary dancer to perform during the half time break.
Is it difficult to put into words just how beautiful her dance, Green Leaf – a Chinese fan Dance, was. But I have to tell you I was almost in tears.
There was thunderous applause from the full house at Fortress Greenbank. Congratulations to the Tigers’ individual who took the decision to bring us, possibly, the most creative piece of half-time entertainment I have ever seen in the BBL.
And so to the second half, and Shawn Myers would take his score on to 10 while Steven Gayle would move smoothly on to 13 with a monster three. Midgley added another from beyond the arc to move to 21 but the score was tight all the way until the Tigers turned the screw with Midgley and Gross doing the damage.
The score at the end of the 3rd was 76 to the Tigers and 63 to the Jets.
The Tigers had nailed 4 three pointers in the quarter with James Jones, Tony Dorsey, Olu Babalola and Richard Midgley all successful from down town. Andre Smith had moved on to 4 points personal…incredibly, he would score no more in this game.
So this one was all over…wrong! The Jets had other ideas as Gayle and Marks took control in the 4th and to put it mildly the Tigers didn’t have an answer.
Steven Gayle would move from 13 points to 25 including two more big threes while Marks would add 7 more points. The Jets kept working their way back into this one bit by bit and took the lead for the first time in the final quarter with 12 seconds to go.
It was all over…Wrong!
With 5 seconds left to play Andre Smith attempted to win the game but missed…he gets his own rebound and shoots again he misses, Gross grabs the rebound shoots and misses…Dorsey gets the rebound and shoots…he misses Gross tips the ball into the basket and the game is over.
The Everton Tigers win the game 91 points to 90.
That has got to be one of the most incredible endings I have seen for a number of years.
Congratulations to both teams for making this a most memorable night a Greenbank. It was a bit closer than the final result of the BBL Cup and as an event it was right up there with the very best.
Marks led all scorers with 31 for the Jets ably assisted by Steven Gayle with 25. For the Tigers Midgley with 21 and Babalola also with 21 were the big scorers with 19 from Josh Gross.
Following his three Technical dismissal from the last home game at Greenbank, Gross owed the fans something special and that last second tip was just what the doctor ordered.
BBL Legend Tony Dorsey, just back from injury, would finish with 12 points on 5 for 8 shooting, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 steal.
Some of his assists were as beautiful as our half-time entertainment.
You got to love this game
Later Mike S
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