James Hawthorne Jr takes runner up spot at this years BBL dunk contest.

James Hawthorne Jr takes runner up spot at this years BBL dunk contest.

This weekend saw the WBBL and BBL Cup Finals, both between the London Lions and Leicester Riders at the Utilita Arena, Birmingham. The event was a spectacular affair complete with a brass band, full DJ sets, ticker tape and flame throwing celebrations. The Lions would triumph in both fixtures, with the women's final opening proceedings with a blow out victory and the men following suit although in a close affair. In between the two finals the crowd were treated to the annual BBL Slam Dunk Contest, featuring the Plymouth City Patriots own, James Hawthorne Jr. Hawthorne Jr, known affectionately as Tookie, a nickname given to him at birth by his Aunty back in Mississippi, wowed the crowd with his dunks and acrobatic attempts and, true to form, brought the crowd to a thunderous applause everytime he took to the court.

Tookie hit a number of exciting, acrobatic dunks. His first round dunk included a 360 degree spin with a left handed throwdown, getting high scores from the judges. His second dunk was also a 360, but from the right side, with the exclamation of a right handed windmill finish. This secured him a place in the final, where Tookie sought the help of a fellow contestant, to alley-oop pass to him, which proved unsuccessful, and essentially lost him the competition. Tookie would, however, get one final chance to wow the crowd with a high flying slam over Larry the Lion, the BBLs mascot, which he successfully finished.

“It was fine, got a chance to get some good dunks and I enjoyed it” said Tookie, in a post game interview. He continued “I enjoyed dunking over Larry [The Lion]. He told me that I should, so I just went along with it. With regards to his missed dunk where he required the help of fellow contestant Marcus Delpeche, Tookie had a light hearted response, saying, “I feel like I was sabotaged a little bit. If I’d have got that dunk I would have won, my dunks were by far the best.” He was also impressed by the event and the fans, and in closing said “It was lit, so many people rocking out and it was a wonderful experience. I think I did pretty good, you win some, you lose some. Thank you to the BBL for letting me participate in the dunk contest and hopefully I’ll be in another one sometime soon.”

The Plymouth City Patriots were also in action over the weekend, with a tough road trip loss to the Sheffield Sharks. The Patriots held a slender 5 point lead during the game, but were unable to hold onto it, as the home team Sharks managed to sneak ahead, and take the win, 82-77. Isa Brandon and Ty Gadsden had stand-out performances for the visitors, but it wouldn’t be enough for the win. It was the Patriots third straight loss in a row, with the new additions and roster changes putting a halt on the team's progress so far this season, despite the side showing signs of cohesion. The Patriots are in action again Friday night, when they take on the Bristol Flyers at home. It’ll be the first game at Pavilions for over a month and a chance for the new signings to play in front of the raucous Plymouth fans.

Pablo Cheeks @PabloCheeksBTR on Twitter

Photo by Ryan Lee

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