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Leicester come back from the dead in cup semi

Leicester Riders came back from the dead to breathe life into their BBL Cup Final prospects with a 90-90 draw against Newcastle.

Leicester Riders came back from the dead to breathe life into their BBL Cup Final prospects with a 90-90 draw against Newcastle.

Trailing by as many as 21 points in a disastrous first half at home against the Eagles in the semi-final first-leg, Rob Paternostro and his team were watching their chances hanging by a thread before they composed themselves to complete a quite stunning comeback.

As the Eagles took their foot off the pedal and ran out of steam, the Riders dug deep and were absolutely phenomenal in the second half which resulted in a BBL classic as they secured a rare tied game at 90-90 to set up a fascinating second leg next week.

In a classic game of two halves, Eagles were up by as many as 21 points until the home team launched their superb revival after returning from the locker rooms looking to salvage their Cup hopes which were looking decidedly dodgy at one point.

Having destroyed UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders at Sport Central on Friday night in the league, the Eagles picked up where they left off with a seamless transition into this game. They showed the same level of intensity at both ends of the floor to leave their stunned hosts trailing in their wake.

Defensively they were sensational during the first half and completely locked down the dangerous trio of Cameron Rundles, Ayron Hardy and most importantly, former favourite Drew Sullivan.

Not allowing Sullivan any looks at the basket, the Great Britain captain who is so often an immeasurable force of good for Riders was nullified to great effect by his former employers and went scoreless in the first half.

Despite this setback, the home team did rally slightly with the fantastic Bradd Wierzbicki (pictured) helping to stem the tide with 18 first half-points as the home team looked to limit the damage at 58-40 by the midway point of the game.

It made a big difference because when Riders emerged from the locker rooms they were like a team possessed and roared on by the home fans, they began a remarkable salvage operation which was every bit as impressive as the Eagles first half display.

Having cut the gap to just ten points at 65-55 during the third quarter it was in the final quarter when Riders really began to turn the screw and the once dominant Eagles began to crumble in spectacular fashion as they ran out of steam.

Looking hungry and hurt from their first half hammering, Riders were scintillating as they sensed blood and the ability to even take a lead into the second leg. With Brett Royster and Ayron Hardy lending great support to Wierzbicki, the home team completed their fight back by moving 88-86 in front before the teams eventually finished locked on 90-90.

Bradd Wiezerbicki was the hero with 32 points while Ayron Hardy came up with another big game to deny the Eagles who at one point had a foot in the Final but will now be ruing an opportunity lost.

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