Norrköping, Södertälje meet in hoops finals. A pair of former champions are locking horns in the best-of-seven finals of the Swedish Basketball League.
The Norrköping Dolphins, which last won the title in 2009-2010 and has reached the finals in four of the past seven seasons, advanced to the finals with a hard-fought five-game series victory over Boras. The Södertälje Kings, the 2004-2005 champions, knocked off LF Basket in five games to reach the finals.
The Dolphins and Kings finished with identical 23-13 records in the regular season, with Norrköping taking the title, thanks to a better head-to-head record. The title gave Norrköping home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The finals opened in Norrköping April 19 and the Dolphins used their home-court advantage and a smothering defensive effort to claim an 87-62 Game 1 victory. Norrköping won the game on the boards, outrebounding the Kings 36-23, including 26-15 on the defensive boards. Lithuanian center Petras Balockas led the Dolphins with 20 points and seven rebounds. Anton Saks added 17 points and 8 rebounds. Fred Drains, an NCAA Division II All-America at Kean State University in New Jersey added 11 points from off the bench.
Norrköping rolled to a 48-30 half-time lead and held a 64-44 edge at the start of the fourth quarter. Both teams emptied their benches in the final session.
Jesper Andersson came off the bench to lead the Kings in scoring with 18 points. Dino Pita had 14 while Mike Joseph added 10.
The series shifted to Södertälje for Game 2 and the Kings used their home court to grab a 75-66 victory. Rebounds were again many and this time, Södertälje won the battle of boards. Kings center Kenneth Simms, a Cumberland State University star, pulled in 13 rebounds to go with his team-high 19 points and three blocks to lead Södertälje. The Kings used a 21-12 second-quarter spurt to take control of the game.
Balockas again led the Dolphins. The University of Hawaii product scored 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Game 3 in the series is set for April 22, too late for publication. Game 4 was set for April 24 and Game 5 for April 29. If necessary, the Kings and Dolphins would meet in Game 6 on April 29 and Game 7 on May 1.
by Chipp Reid