Cameron Rundles was instrumental in helping Leicester Riders into the Play-Off final as they defeated Glasgow Rocks 97-72.
The Riders captain produced an impressive display with a 36 point haul as his side reached their first final in six years with an overall 173-149 success.
Drew Sullivan contributed 17 points, Bradd Wierzbicki a further 14 while Ayron Hardy fell short of another triple-double (9pts/10rbs/9as). Mychal Green top scored for the visitors with 21 points as Glasgow were unable to hold on to their slender lead heading into the second leg.
The Rocks did lead early on with a Gareth Murray triple putting them up 11-9 midway through the first. However, Leicester gained control with a run of nine unanswered points and remained in front at the end of the opening quarter; leading 19-13.
Yorrick Williams and Green traded three’s at the start of the second before the home side moved further clear. Wierzbicki sparked a 10-0 burst with five successive points to take the lead out to seventeen points at 34-17. However, Glasgow responded with a strong close to the half with EJ Harrison adding ten points in that spell as they now trailed 44-36.
The third quarter proved pivotal as Leicester found their range from beyond the arc to devastating effect. Wierzbicki and Sullivan were the first to make a mark from downtown when play resumed as the lead was increased to 15 points. The Rocks were handy from the three point line themselves with Murray and Green both netting three’s in an 8-2 response to reduce their arrears into single figures.
Rundles instigated a strong finish for the Riders with two triples in a 13-2 close to take a commanding 77-56 advantage into the final quarter. Leicester outscored their opponents 33-20 to put the game seemingly beyond doubt with ten minutes remaining.
Glasgow opened the fourth with the first four points before the Riders restored their 21 point lead on a three point play from Barry Lamble. The lead stayed around the twenty point mark as Glasgow were unable to compile a sizeable run to threaten their deficit. Leicester finished the game in style as an 11-0 run, capped by a Reece Hagith three, saw the lead peak at 27 points although Cranston had the last basket of the game for the Rocks.
Leicester were clinical from three point range, making 10 out of 20 attempts as well as shooting 54% as a team from the field to progress to next week’s Play-Off final at the NIA Arena in Birmingham.
Having led the Riders to their highest league finish, Rob Paternostro will now lead his side in a final for the first time. Leicester last won their play-offs when they defeated Sheffield at Wembley Arena back in 2001, which also represents the last time the club won silverware.