BBL Trophy, First Round

London Lions 82-92 Team Solent Kestrels (13-22, 33-45, 59-71)

UEL Sportsdock

The 2018-19 BBL Trophy runners-up London Lions are out after the First Round of the BBL Trophy following a huge upset victory by Team Solent Kestrels, 82-92.

The first half saw the lions up early on a Robinson lay up before the visiting side took the lead as the Lions missed 5 straight shots. Travis Charles made it 8-9 and the Kestrels run was on.  The Brooklyn native and former Lion, Jonathan Lashley combined for the next 6 points to open an 8-15 lead. By the time Jules Dang-Akodo stopped the rot with a bucket, the home side had missed 6 shots in a row and committed two turnovers. By the end of the first quarter it was 13-22 and the Lions looked punch drunk.

With a shuffle of the pack from Coach Macaulay it looked like Lions were getting a groove back, Robinson and Dang-Akodo combined and it was done to 20-26. Brandon Peel was now in foul trouble and being used sparingly. Solent’s Okoronkwo then hit a pair of three’s just as it seemed the home side had a rhythm and the lead was back out to 11 points at 25-36, the quarter ended 33-45 and the upset was on.

Lions Captain Joe Ikhinmwin opened the second half with a triple, Ali Tew scored inside and Robinson hit a pair of free throws and it was 40-45, game on – except no one had told the Kestrel’s, they maintained their tempo, were aggressive from all positions and the energy of Lashley and Charles drove them on to match the British Champions. From there the visitors actually extended their lead and when Scarlett hit a deep three on the buzzer Kestrels led, 59-71 with just a quarter left.

It could be argued Solent played their best in the fourth, because as the Lions scrambled hard, Solent refused to budge, point guard Ian Smith ran his pick and roll with Charles to perfection as the big man had 6 points early and the lead kept drifting. With 5 minutes to go it was 67-83. A 6-2 run for Kestrels fuelled by all 6 points from Lashley made it 20 points and game over. The visiting bench was up, juniors on the floor and the win secured 82-92 as a stunned Lions team looked like they had underestimated the desire of their visitors and the game plan executed.

Solent’s Travis Charles was the one to lead his team to victory, picking up a double-double of 26 points and 14 rebounds. But former Lion, Jonathan Lashley had a huge homecoming, grinning ear to ear, with 21 points and 9 rebounds for the graduate of the Hackney College Academy.

Coach Macaulay was not happy as you would expect, “We were given a lesson in respecting the game today and respecting your opponent, Solent are an excellent basketball team, they competed very hard and could care less who they were playing, their love to just compete in their sport was clear on all their faces – they played with joy, I am disappointed in how we played and I will take full responsibility for that – you have to be humble or hungry – you cant be neither and we were neither. I congratulate Coach Matt Guymon on the job they did and I wish them the best of luck the resat of the way.”

Team Solent Kestrels will now meet the Worthing Thunder in the Trophy Quarter Finals, per the competition’s bracket format after they defeated the Manchester Giants.