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BBL & WBBL Trophy finals: Cheshire Phoenix looking to retain crown while London Lions aim for second win | Basketball News

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The BBL and WBBL Trophy finals are set to unfold in Glasgow live on Sky Sports Action from 12:30pm on Sunday; Cheshire Phoenix are looking to retain their crown against Caledonia Gladiators, while London Lions are aiming for a second final win over Leicester Riders

Last Updated: 26/03/23 10:15am

London Lions’ Shanice Beckford-Norton drives to the basket past Leicester Riders’ Hannah Robb (right), during the Women’s British Basketball Cup final

The BBL and WBBL Trophy finals are set to unfold in Glasgow live on Sky Sports Action from 12:30pm on Sunday.

Cheshire Phoenix are looking to retain their crown against the Caledonia Gladiators, who will have home advantage, in the men’s final, while London Lions are aiming for a second final win over Leicester Riders in the women’s showpiece which takes place first.

It is another double-header of action, as it was a few months ago when there was a victory for both the men’s and women’s London Lions teams on the same weekend in the British Basketball League finals.

This time around, however, only the women’s team have managed to keep themselves in the running for another trophy, and they face a familiar foe: the Leicester Riders.

The teams last met in January’s WBBL Cup final in Birmingham when the Lions won 95-42 to post the biggest winning margin in a WBBL final. Last season they won all four WBBL titles and set the record for the longest unbeaten run, standing at 50 games.

There was a victory for both the men's and women's London Lions teams in the British Basketball League finals

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There was a victory for both the men’s and women’s London Lions teams in the British Basketball League finals

There was a victory for both the men’s and women’s London Lions teams in the British Basketball League finals

But they sent ripples through the WBBL sphere by removing the head coach responsible for that streak, Mark Clark, and replacing him with the highly-rated Stella Kaltsidou. In her first game in charge, that stellar run ended at the hands of the Caledonia Gladiators.

« I arrived on Thursday and we played on Saturday and we lost it, » she said. « But basketball is like that – losses like that can wake up the team and get them motivated again. »

That will be the aim in the remainder of this year’s campaign in which her team are still on course to repeat their feat of sweeping all of the major titles.

If that is to be the case, they will need the same depth and wealth of talent as they had last season. Azania Stewart, Chantel Charles and Shanice Beckford-Norton make up that cohort.

« The girls are working hard, » said Kaltsidou. « You cannot change a lot of things on a team that is playing well. Coach Clark was doing a very good job and I just want to continue that. »

They will be up against fiery opposition. The Riders impressed in moments in the previous match-up between these two sides with Oliana Squires leading the charge.

« It’s a chance for us to redeem ourselves so we’re really excited, » said Squires. « We pride ourselves on being a good defensive team – if we lock in on our assignments we can compete. »

In the men’s final, Cheshire Phoenix are looking to carry out the same task and become the 13th team to win back-to-back BBL Trophy finals when they face the Gladiators.

The Phoenix upset the Lions last season to win the trophy, arriving at the game in the midst of a losing streak. This weekend’s opposition might draw comfort from that fact, especially considering they have never won the trophy despite their home city hosting the final in nine of the past 10 seasons.

In that sense, Caledonia are overdue some silverware, but it may be one step too far. Coach and club veteran Gareth Murray admitted as much when he said « we’ve never been a team that’s built to win the league ».

How will it all unravel? You can watch it live on Sky Sports Action, or via live stream on our YouTube channel.



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