TCS Chester Jets 75 Newcastle Eagles 78
JETS suffered the heartbreak of losing the BBL Championship Play-Off final for the second successive year at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, on Sunday.
This defeat must have hurt even more, not only because they fell just short in the season's biggest game as they had done 12 months ago but because this season they had the BBL's most talented team.
One of the quirks, or perhaps flaws of the BBL's Championship Play-Off system is that it allows teams who finish as low as eighth in an 11-club division to have a crack at the sport's major prize.
Last year, Jets were grateful just to get to the final having finished only fifth in the regular season in what was their first campaign under coach Paul Smith who had taken over from the all-conquering Robbie Peers.
But this time around, the end-of-season lottery had actually gone with the form book and the BBL's top two sides were left to slug it out.
Only three weeks earlier, Jets had snatched the British Basketball League title from Eagles' grasp with a pulsating 96-94 victory in front of a crowd of more than 4,000 in Newcastle.
Also, with a roster potentially nine men deep, Jets had a squad equipped better than ever to deal with the rigours inflicted by another of the BBL's pearls of wisdom, playing the two most important matches of the season on back-to-back days.
But, despite preventing their opponents from building up any sort of significant lead for three-and-a-half quarters, Jets were finally undone in the crucial last five minutes of their campaign.
Jets started brightest and enjoyed healthy early leads of 8-2 and 12-5 but were never unable to put Eagles out of sight, a problem that ultimately proved costly.
Going into the second quarter 14-13 up, Jets only ever let their opponents take the lead once, in the opening minute of the period, but whenever it seemed like they were going to take control, the pendulum would swing back.
Jets were 38-37 up at the interval and the large number of foul shots taken suggested that neither side was going to give away any easy baskets but the problem was that Eagles' players, particularly MVP Andrew Sullivan, were more adept from the charity stripe.
The physical nature of the game caught up with Jets in the third as Calvin Davis, Delme Herriman and Billy Singleton all started drinking at the last chance saloon by picking up their fourth fouls.
Despite these worries, Jets had never had it so good as they entered the final quarter 60-55 up.
While Jets were outshooting Eagles from field goals, their opponents were keeping in touch with a series of long range bombs.
Most sides have one of two three-point experts but Eagles have at least four and although it's relatively simple to stay tight on one dangerman, Jets found it impossible to shackle an entire team.
Unfortunately for Jets, who seemed to run out of ideas, Eagles had the last run of the season.
Trailing by two points (75-77), with just 17.3 seconds remaining and Eagles running the clock down, Trey Moore, who was Jets' only performer to meet their usual ever-so-high standards, was forced to foul Jeremy Hyatt to gain the final possession of the game for his side.
Hyatt hit one for two from the line, ensuring Jets would need a three-pointer just to force overtime. However, as time ran out, Moore's desperate last shot didn't even come close as it was blocked by TJ Walker and Eagles, led by BBL Coach of the Year Fabulous Flournoy, were champions.
Jets' scorers: Trey Moore (20); Billy Singleton (13); DJ Harrison (12); Shawn Myers & Delme Herriman (both 9); Calvin Davis (7); Anthony Martin (5).
Eagles' scorers: Andrew Sullivan (27); TJ Walker (17); Jeremy Hyatt, Frank Bennett & Charles Smith (all 9); Fabulous Flournoy (4); Andrew Bridge (3).
Jets defeated Scottish Rocks 74-72 in Saturday's semi-final at the same venue.
Although the game was close throughout with Jets 17-16 up after the first quarter, 38-37 down at the interval and 60-58 ahead at the end of the third, Rocks had gone five points up in the final period (70-65) while Donald Cole missed a potential game-winning three point attempt in the dying seconds.
Jets' scorers: Moore (29); Davis (21); Myers (11); Harrison (6); Singleton (5); Herriman (2).