The show is going well and I have remembered everthing that I will need for this very long day. At the BBL Finals Weekend I am commentating on the Championship Final and the All Star game for BBLTV.
BBLTV is a new venture which is trying to set up an on-line TV service broadcasting basketball games within a couple of days of the game taking place. Although they have done one game as a try-out, this will be their first real effort.
My co-commentator is BBL and Sheffield Sharks legend Todd Cauthorn. It has to be said, I am really looking forward to this.
The Sunday Breakfast programme starts at 7:00 and things are going well until I go over to the traffic & travel at 7:20. The lead story is that there has been a massive accident on the M6 and the motorway is closed in both directions.
It is not expected to open for a number of hours.
To put it mildly, this is not good news. I do not finish the programme until 9:00 and I need to have breakfast and get to the NIA by 12 noon. The All-Star game starts at 1:00pm.
I continue to do the show and at 7:40 the news is still the same. I start to think of ways of bypassing the accident but it is going to be very difficult. The accident is in Staffordshire and has closed a huge chunk of the motorway so going down the M6 and heading for Derby then picking up the A38 is out of the question. The news gets worst.
The Sunday Breakfast programme is produced by my very good friend Rebecca who leaves everything ready to go for me when I arrive. Usually I just put the music into the running order and we are off.
Overnight Ricky Hatton was fighting in Las Vegas and he was destroyed by Manny Pacquiao who knocked him out in the second round.
Ricky and his family live in Hyde in the Greater Manchester area and he and his family are great friends of BBC Radio Manchester. At about quarter to eight the news came through that Ricky’s dad was on the line from Las vegas for a live interview.
It had to be done as soon as possibly as we only had him for a few minutes.
We moved a couple of things around and got a great interview with him. So what has this got to do with my mounting problems.
Well if anyone gets an interview as massive as this they are expected to edit it and make it available for other presenters to use as required so I knew I would not be getting out of the building at two minutes past 9 as planned.
At 8:40 more traffic and travel and the news is not much better. The northbound M6 has been reopened but the southbound is still closed and there is still no idea as to when it will be reopened.
I head out of BBC Manchester at about half past 9 and decide to take the A34 through Congleton and get back on the M6 after the accident. I have no idea where the accident is so I have to phone my son to plot me a route round the problems.
Breakfast is McDonalds sausage and egg muffin and diet coke.
I eventually get back onto the motorway somewhere round Cannock I think and it is like a carpark. I finally arrive at the NIA with only a couple of minutes to spare.
The first thing on the agenda is the 2009 All Star game. Now we used to have All star games in the past and to be honest they eventually died a natural death. Players really weren’t interested and they became a chore for everyone involved.
It was hoped that this game would be different and it was not going to be North v South as in the past but this was going to be Great Britain v The Rest of the World. It was excellent with genuine skills on show. For GB, eventual MVP Chris Sanders started the game with 4 dunks while Ryan Patton, mikeshaft.com sharp shooter of the year opened with 4 three pointers. Yorick Williams (24 points and 6 rebounds) and Anthony Martin (6 points 7 assists) truly played the game in the spirit in which all All Star games should be played.
Towards the end of the game guys were actually playing defence as both sides went for the win.
In the end the Rest of the World would take it by a scoreline of 124-117 but, to the excitement of everyone concerned, Chris Sanders of GB was named MVP.
He’d led all scorers with 30 while Drew lasker led for the Rest of the World with 22. He was cooly assisted by Ryan Patton with 22. Duane James also had a nice couple of moves as did Keonta Howell.
Next on the agenda was the Semi Finals and later the Finals of the Hoops 4 Health tournament. this had been running through the season and youngsters from across the country were here to take part in the finals. It will be interesting to see if any of these guys return to play in a Championship game anytime in the future.
And so the stage is set for the 2009 BBL Championship game, The Newcastle Eagles will take on the Everton Tigers for the big one. The Eagles are without last season’s BBL MVP Lynard Stewart and the Tigers are without the influential Andre Smith. Could the Tigers defeat the Eagles without Smith? Well they got past the Riders in the semi final without him so anything was possible.
The first quarter was as good for the Eagles as it was bad for the Tigers. Garbelotto’s men did everything but put the ball in the basket. Dorsey had good looks as did Josh Gross. But as a team they shot 40% from the field and 33% from the threepoint line making just 1 of 3. They had taken only 1 freethrow and had failed to make it. This was a disaster for the Tigers.
The Eagles however were flying high and Trey Moore and Reggie Jackson were running things and running was the operative word as they blitzed the Tigers play after play. They made 5 of the 9 three point attempts and went 14 for 29 from the field. At the end of the first it was 36-17 to the Eagles.
The Tigers had a better second quarter but not by much. They had increased their field goal percentage to 47% but the Eagles were now at 61%. The score at the half was 51-40 to the Eagles. The Tigers were down by 11 but worst than that really did not look as if they would trouble the Eagles in any statistical category tonight.
And so to the third quarter and believe it or not it actually got worse for the Tigers as they would score only 12 points while the Eagles nailed 19 to extend their lead. By the end of the half the Tigers has 3 guys on three fouls including Josh Gross whose points total was 4.
For the Eagles it was all too easy as Darius Defoe and Reggie Jackson had 18 a piece while Trey Moore had 13 points and 6 assists. His 6 assists were 2 more than the whole of the Everton Tigers team. The score at the end of the third was 70-52 to the Eagles and this game was over as a contest…or so we thought.
Obviously no one had told Great Britain point guard Richard Midgley that the game was over as he took it upon himself to lead his team back into this game and to give the Eagles one of the biggest scares they had had all season. The Midge was immaculate and was incredible. Play after play he came down and made the Eagles pay.
Midgley had joined the Eagles at the start of the 2007/08 season but left after a very short space of time. Depending on who you talk to you will get different stories as to why he left. What was never in doubt was that he chose to leave.
Another former Eagle would also step up and finish with 25 points. He was Olu Babalola.
But with the greatest respect to everyone else on the court this should be remembered as the Richard Midgley Final. He finished with a record breaking 36 points going 11 for 17 from the field 4 for 7 from the three point line and 10 for 11 from the free throw line.
How close did the Eagles come to losing the game? Well Midgley played the final few minutes as a man posessed and it could only be described as an NBA ending as the Tigers fouled to stop the clock and came to the final seconds down three. A time out had been called by Fab Flournoy so the Tigers could not advance the ball to the half way line. Garbelotto drew up his play and his guys went back on to the floor.
Tony G had obviously drawn up the play for his guy to inbound the ball on the right side of the basket but the officials had other ideas and made them inbound it from the opposite side.
This did not stop Midgley getting the ball in his hands driving the length of the court and pulling up to attempt the three to tie the game.
Depending who you talk to, he was either fouled or not fouled on that final play and that was that.
The Eagles held on for their 3rd trophy of the season. The only one they missed out on was the BBL Cup which the Tigers had won.
This had been a great fightback by the Tigers heavens only knows what would have happened had this gone into overtime.
The same refs who were calling ticky tack fouls minutes earlier failed to make the biggest call of the game.
Of course Midgeley could have gone to the line and missed one or more of the free throws and the Eagles would have won the game but he could have made all three and we could have had at least another five minutes of the extraordinary spectacle.
Referring basketball is horrendously difficult and much comes down to a matter of opinion. I presume that in the opinion of the officials Richard Midgley was not fouled on that final shot. And you know what we have to respect that opinion.
Which brings me to my final thought on this season.
There has been much discussion as to who has been or should have been chosen as the BBL Player and Coach of the Year.
As I am sure you know by now, these Awards were won by Trey Moore and Rob Paternostro respectively and congratulations to them both.
I am not going to comment directly as to whether these Awards went to the right individuals. I know that the people who were tasked with coming up with the winners made their choices and we have to respect those choices.
In their opinions the correct people won those Awards.
The mikeshaft.com Awards are something completely different and my Player of the Year was Andre Smith while my Coach of the Year was Fab Flournoy.
Having seen both perform on numerous ocassions this year I am very very happy with my choices.
I hope you have a wonderful summer
Later, Mike S
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