Sunday, 6 March 2011

The BBL Trophy Final Guildford Heat vs. Mersey Tigers Live at The O2 Arena

When I was a student, there was no better way to start the weekend than by waking up to the latest roundup of NBA action on Channel 4. Don’t ask me why but I was entranced by the speed and confidence with which the players moved and “slam-dunked” the ball into the net. I was an avid follower of the Chicago Bulls, New York Nicks and Boston Celtics. The players were giants and mastered the ball with such ease. When I watched the matches, I used to think how fantastic it must be to watch the game live at Madison Square Garden. The atmosphere must be AMAZING! So I was sad when Channel 4 stopped transmitting the NBA games.
Last week I saw an email courtesy of Groupon advertising tickets to see the British Basketball League (BBL) Trophy Final. The event was to be held at the O2 on Saturday 5th March for £6 (instead of £15).
Photo Credit: BBL Logo

I am ashamed to say I had not heard of the BBL before but when I realised the offer related to a live Basketball Final, I could not pass up the opportunity to relive those happy moments from years gone by! The 02 arena is relatively close to where I live and the price was very reasonable (even at £15 I still think it is good value for money!)
Televised by Sky Sports TV, the final featured two teams with a sound pedigree; The Mersey Tigers (BBL Playoff Champions), and the Guilford Heat (winners of the BBL Trophy in 2008).

This seemed to be a great time to raise the profile of the BBL, as the organisers of the O2 were also hosting NBA matches over the weekend featuring the New Jersey Nets and the Toronto Raptors.

We arrived in the arena 10 minutes before the game to a positive and happy buzz. Many fans were already tooting horns and banging drums! Although the arena was less than 50% full, the atmosphere was very much alive as we heard a very bubbly commentator, funky music, and the team mascots (Scorcher for the Guildford Heat, and Tiger for the Mersey Tigers) were cheering on the crowd.

I am delighted to say that this sporting event is really family friendly with both girls and boys providing a loyal fan base. There is much interaction between the team mascots and children; as you can imagine, there is nothing more cool than for a young boy or girl to have their photo taken with or to “high-five” the much loved Scorcher or Tiger.

Before and during the breaks the “BBL Babes” (or cheerleaders to you and I), take centre stage and perform routines to the likes of "Outcast" occasionally accompanied by the less refined Scorcher and Tiger!
The game itself lasts about 2 hours and is made up of 4 quarters with a longer interval of around 15 minutes after the 2nd quarter.
The game between the Tigers and Heat begins 
During the 1st quarter, the Guildford Heat were being dominated by the Mersey Tigers but managed to take a slight lead at the end of the 2nd quarter. In the 3rd quarter, the Heat were unable to maintain their lead as the Tigers turned around a first half deficit with a massive 22-0 surge with the Mersey Tigers eventually winning 84-66.
 MVP: Andrew Sullivan,
Photo Credit:

Andrew Sullivan, (Great Britain's captain) representing the Mersey Tigers,was awarded Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.

During a game like basketball there is no opportunity for the viewer to get bored; the audience is transfixed and marvels with the drama that unfolds in front of them, whether it be risky assists, great defending or the spectacular slam-dunk!

Even during one of the breaks a mascot called Foxy, with a somewhat wild reputation came onto the floor and chaos soon ensued. He picked up one of the cheerleaders mid performance and ran off court with her. He returned her only to ruin the timings of her team and then proceeded to pick up and throw some of the advertising banners onto the court. He finished his stint by threatening to give the commentator a head massage (he has no hair!) much to the amazement and amusement of the audience!

The BBL Babes await the awards ceremony

GB Basketball was recently granted a solid endorsement from the British Olympic Association which should assist them in securing a place at next year's 2012 Olympics. During half time there was an appeal to show our support to have the sport included in the 2012 Olympic Games. With what I have witnessed and with what British basketball teams have accomplished across Europe in recent years, it would be a great disservice to British sport to have it excluded!

I am deeply impressed with the level of professionalism demonstrated during the game, it is clear that the players have the utmost respect for their opponents and the referees. There is plenty of competitiveness spirit, without giving way to the disgraceful, violent scenes we have recently witnessed on our football pitches.

I am so glad I went to the final, it reignited my admiration for the game and I truly believe it is a sport which should be on every school sports curriculum. It should be widely encouraged as a spectator sport; it’s fun, it’s accessible to both sexes, its family oriented, it’s good value for money, the duration of the game is appropriate and last but not least, it is a very skilful game to watch.

Dare I say it? It is a great alternative to Football or Cricket! Don’t follow the crowd – take the lead; show your support for the British Basketball League by attending a local game. You won’t regret it!

Find out more about British Basketball games at:

For progress at the 2012 Olympics visit:

Tell them MeLikeyUK sent you!

Enjoy x

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