Glasgow Rocks 98 (20, 39, 72) (Northern 29, Murray 21, Urli 20)
Cheshire Phoenix 77 (17, 38, 52) (Moses 21, Coleman 20, Bailey 15)
Glasgow Rocks overcame a 6-point aggregate deficit to defeat Cheshire Phoenix 98-77 in the BBL Trophy semi-final second leg at the Emirates Arena. The win secured a 172-157 victory on aggregate for the Rocks, earning themselves a place in the final of the competition against Worcester Wolves.
An outstanding team performance by the home side ensured their progression in the competition.
With EJ Harrison not long back from injury it meant Marcotullio took his place in the Rocks’ starting five alongside Murray, Northern, Urli and Johnson. Meanwhile the Nix were without Mike Creppy, who was given a one-game suspension for his punch of the Rocks’ own Gareth Murray in a game at the Emirates six weeks previous.
The sluggish start to the game from both sides did not prepare anyone inside the arena for what was to unfold during the course of the match.
Baskets were traded before Phoenix stretched to a 7-point lead midway through the opening quarter. That then livened up the Rocks who finished the quarter with a 20-17 lead following a 10-0 scoring run in their favour in the latter stages of the first period.
In what was an outstanding performance from Daniel Northern he reached a double-double 10-points, 10 rebounds with little over three minutes played in the second quarter.
The second period was tight with neither side asserting themselves but it was a three from Fran Urli on the half-time buzzer that gave Rocks a slender 39-38 lead at the half.
With only three minutes gone in the third Northern reached 20 personal as the Rocks sailed into a 22-point lead at one stage in what was one of the most formidable, if not the most formidable, quarters they have produced all season.
For once everything was falling for the Rocks as they outscored their Cheshire opponents 33-14 in the third quarter – sending the home crowd into dreamland as the noise levels continued to increase around the Emirates Arena.
When asked what his half-time words of encouragement were, Sterling said: “I just told them that we had to come out and make sure we threw the first punch. We had to stay consistent with what we’ve been doing in the past and I think we faltered when we didn’t do that but we did a good job of it today.”
The Rocks suffered a scare in the fourth as the Phoenix reduced the aggregate score-line to just three points at one stage before the Rocks re-asserted themselves and increased their lead to double figures once more.
The game boiled over with a matter of seconds on the clock as Nix’s Bailey faced-off with a number of Rocks players before a couple of Cheshire fans attempted to get onto the court to defend their man – an ending which marred what was a great spectacle overall.
Cheshire had a score to settle with the Rocks following the suspension of Creppy prior to the game and made sure their feelings were known with abuse being hurled at home fans from the travelling support. Phoenix head coach, John Lavery, even got himself involved shouting at a Rocks fan during the course of the game.
Speaking of the events that unfolded, Davis said: “I just think it’s all in the nature of competitiveness. Both teams wanted to win and I think at the end of the game if you’re not on the winning side it hurts. We’ve been on the other side of that before too so it was just all in competition.”
In the end, the Rocks prevailed and set-up a home court final against Worcester Wolves on 30 March at 3pm.
But Davis does not believe playing the final at the Emirates Arena will give his side full advantage, he said: “I guess to some extent it gives us a little bit of a home court advantage but at the same time both teams have to come up and be ready to play. I think if we execute on both ends we’ll give ourselves a chance. It gives us a minimal advantage just to have some support but still at the end of the day the game is played on the court.”
Daniel Northern was in full on #BeastMode for the Rocks, leading the game with 29pts/21rebs, Murray had 21pts/5rebs/4ast and Urli came away with 20pts from 8/10 shooting.
Victor Moses led Cheshire with 21pts/14rebs, Coleman had 20pts and Bailey had 15pts.