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London Lions beat Cheshire Phoenix to win BBL play-offs

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Cheshire have been a surprise package this season, finishing second in the league and winning the BBL Trophy, beating London in the final.

They were nevertheless underdogs, but Phoenix boss Ben Thomas – the coach of the year – was determined to make life uncomfortable for London again and deployed a full-court press early on.

The aggressive approach initially worked and the opening stages were even.

However, the favourites began to take control, leading 24-14 at the end of the first quarter and 52-41 at half-time, with Dekker’s speed and trickery causing Phoenix problems.

There was no respite for them immediately after the interval, with the fourth of several steals by Tarik Phillip helping London extend their advantage to 59-41.

That prompted Thomas to call a timeout in only the second minute of the third quarter in an attempt to stem the tide.

The reset had an effect, with Phoenix responding emphatically to Thomas’ pleas to “be aggressive”, reducing the deficit to just three points, at 74-71, going into an electrifying final quarter in which they levelled in the final minute only for Dekker to win it for London in style.

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