Gladiators’ BBL side travelled to the Midlands for a midweek British Basketball League Cup semi-final bout. A ticket to Birmingham for the BBL Cup Finals was at stake, with current holders, Leicester Riders, being the only opponents in their way. Unfortunately for Gareth Murray’s squad, despite a hard-fought game, Riders picked up the 23-point W at the Morningside Arena.
Going into the game, the teams had matched up three times already this campaign: twice at the Emirates Arena, and once at Morningside Arena. In Glasgow, Gareth Murray’s sides were comfortable, with a 9-point and and 26-point victory in each. In Leicester, the hosts dominated, winning by 33 points just 12 days ago. This time, it was all to play for, with an opportunity of reaching a Cup final as Riders looked to retain their silverware, and Gladiators hoped to reach the ultimate stage for the first time since 2019.
Gladiators’ roster tonight included two former Leicester players: Ali Fraser, a pivotal part to their 20/21 Championship-winning campaign and Kyle Jimenez who studied at Loughborough University, featuring for the BBL squad on a handful of occasions. The two Scots would certainly be thinking about one-upping their former franchise in such a pivotal game.
To begin the outing, following a period of a few solid defensive possessions, Patrick Whelan opened the account with a mid-range jumpshot. The first quarter continued with the hosts gaining a quick advantage through well-worked basketball and solid defense. David Sloan and Patrick Tapé combined for an early contender for the Play of the Week: a behind-the-back pass met by a strong dunk. After the first ten, Riders were up by 17 points, 30-13.
As the teams settled into the game, the second quarter initially saw the Gladiators improving on both ends, through defensive adjustments and the offense flowing from Gareth Murray’s side. However, in the last few minutes, Riders benefited from momentum. Going into the locker rooms, the point difference remained at 17, 50-33. The game was certainly still much in contention, with both teams showing bright sparks.
Coming out of the 15-minute break, Gladiators were flying, Coach Murray’s team talk certainly seemed to work. With plenty of solid plays, the visitors started to turn the score around and grow in confidence. However, after 30 minutes of gametime, Riders were still eyeing their spot at the Cup Final, leading by 10 points, 66-56.
Ten minutes to go. A Cup place at stake. Still all to play for. In the final period, end-to-end basketball continued. But due to a few too many missed shots from Gladiators, Leicester Riders took advantage and picked up the eventual victory, 89-68.
Leicester are set to head to Utilita Arena, Birmingham for the British Basketball League Cup Finals on 29th January 2023.
Patrick Tapé was a standout performer for the visitors, picking up the Gladiators MVP following a 21 point, 5 rebound, and 1 assist outing, despite the tough defeat.
Next up for Gladiators, the BBL side take on Sheffield Sharks at home in the BBL Championship this Friday, 23rd December. Get your tickets HERE! Our WBBL side currently have a break for Christmas, but will be back to Championship action in January as they welcome Oaklands Wolves to Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley on the 14th. Get your tickets HERE!