The Mersey Tigers avenged their cup demons to overcome a first-leg deficit and defeat the Newcastle Eagles 114-85 to reach the BBL Cup Final in convincing fashion at the Echo Arena.
The Tigers were knocked out of the same competition by the Eagles at the semi-final stage last season and headed in to their second-leg clash with the Eagles needing to overturn a seven-point deficit from the from the first leg in order to progress to January's final in Birmingham.
It proved to be a challenge that the Tigers were worthy of as they put on a second-half masterclass to overpower the Eagles, winning by 22 points on aggregate.
The Tigers held a slender two-point advantage after a first
half in which the lead changed hands on many occasions,
although the Tigers were frustrated by poor shooting from
the free throw line and indiscipline, which prevented them
from extending their 48-46 half-time lead further.
The home side stepped up the tempo in the second half,
and they were able to pull clear of the Eagles and
establish a big lead.
This was largely down to the contributions of new signing
Nate Reinking and Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan,
who top scored with 39 and 29 points respectively.
The Eagles' offense had no response to the onslaught as they were kept at bay by a stern Tigers defence.
Leading by a score of 78-62 approaching the final quarter, the Tigers were able to add yet more points and increase their healthy advantage and seal their place in the final to delight the home crowd.
It is a fantastic achievement by a team that continues to go from strength to strength this season, and they can now focus on their BBL Championship efforts, which have seen them move to the top of the table after seven games.
Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto was naturally delighted with the win. He said: "I am really proud of how we played. I know we have that level, and I'm pleased we achieved that in the second half."
The Tigers will now have to wait to find out who their Cup Final opponents will be, as the Sheffield Sharks and Cheshire Jets do battle in the other semi-final. A Cheshire win would provide the enticing prospect of a local derby on the big day in January.
By Nicholas McGee, Sports Editor
Mersey Tigers' Drew Sullivan shows off his shooting abilities against the Eagles (Pics: Vegard Grott)
The Tigers won comfortably by 29 points