The reality of reaching the BBL Trophy Final at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on March 15 has still not sunk in for Solent Kestrels head coach Matt Guymon.
The National Basketball League outfit stunned the Bristol Flyers 103-67 in the first leg of the Trophy Semi-Finals last Wednesday and even though the Kestrels lost the second leg on Sunday 92-73, were still able to claim a 176-158 aggregate win.
“It’s a strange feeling as we lost the game by 19, but still advance to the Final, which is a first for me,” Guymon admits.
“I’m sure it will take a couple of days to fully sink in, but for right now, I’m ecstatic that we are in a BBL Trophy Final.”
Kestrels guard Brendan Okoronkwo, added: “It was an unusual feeling to celebrate after a loss, but our approach and execution at both ends in the first leg helped us win the tie overall.
“It was a great feeling to win that first leg and applaud our fans that packed out the Solent Sports Complex. It was a moment that we as a team will remember.”
Solent’s magical Trophy run began with a 92-82 win over last season’s finalists, London Lions in the First Round, followed by a 94-81 victory over fellow NBL Division 1 side, Worthing Thunder in the Quarter-Finals.
Despite beating Bristol over two legs, Sunday’s defeat halted a 36-game unbeaten run in all competitions for Solent that stretched back to February 23, 2019, when they lost 85-74 to the Derby Trailblazers in NBL Division 1 action.
It is however a small price to pay given the prize, all thanks to a stellar first leg outing on the south coast, led by 29 points from American point guard Ian Smith.
The Minnesota native scored 15 of those 29 in the first quarter and was rewarded for his performance in the first leg with a place the BBL All-Star 5 for Week 22.
“It’s a blessing and I’m thankful to be recognised,” Smith said.
“I was able to get in a groove early and it’s always a good feeling when you see your first few shots go in, you start to get comfortable and gain confidence,”
“Ultimately, I was just playing my game, with my team-mates and coaches putting me in good positions to score and I was taking advantage of my opportunities.”
And now either Newcastle Eagles or Cheshire Phoenix await the Kestrels at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on March 15, with Newcastle leading 88-79 going into the second leg at the Eagles Community Arena on March 1.
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