The London Lions were launched in London in 2013 and the team have made the Playoff’s in every season.
The newly crowned BBL Champions will play the Plymouth Raiders, the first leg on the South Coast on Sunday (3pm tip) and the second leg in London at the Copper Box on Bank Holiday Monday (4pm tip).
The number one seed plays the number 8 seed. The Raiders are back in Playoff action after six years in the wilderness but Lions canny Coach, Vince Macaulay is not underestimating his opponents.
“This is not your typical Plymouth team, this is a team coached by Paul James who has plenty of experience of winning things and he is in the early stages of building a culture down there, I respect him a lot and will have the guys ready for a tough encounter.”
Coach James himself is looking forward to the clash;
“We’ve just got to go out there and play; do your homework well, execute the game-plan and see what you can do. We’ve beaten them once, we were close to them the third time. I think we’ve got a game-plan that certainly can make things difficult for them.”
The Lions took the head to head series against every team in the League and against the Raiders they won that 2-1. The first encounter in Plymouth in October went to the home side as the Lions were without Jordan Spencer and Kervin Bristol. The return, also in Plymouth saw a blow out as the Lions won, 67-93 and the final encounter, in the unfamiliar surroundings of UEL Sprtsdock also went to the Lions.
Macaulay said, “They played hard in our last encounter and we rallied and got the stops we wanted, it was our first chance to look at their match up zone and once we sorted it out we were able to get the job done, I expect something similar on Sunday, but we are shooting so much better now and relish it.”
The Raiders will be looking to their talismanic forward Donte Nicholas for inspiration once again this Sunday. Nicholas was recently awarded the BBL Player of the Month for the third time this season, but he will likely lose out to the reigning BBL MVP, Justin Robinson for this year’s accolade.
Josh Wilcher and ex-Lion, Rashad Hassan are the two other keys to watch for Plymouth whilst Jarvalainen now given a starting role has improved his form.
The Lions’ have put in strong performances in their last 5 games, the only loss coming against the Cheshire Jets who nicked a win on their way to claiming a place in the post season.
Robinson has been electric to close out the season, whilst Kervin Bristol has begun to extend his offensive game to compliment his immense defensive presence.
The depth of the Lions will be key over two legs in a back to back scenario and will certainly extend the Raiders.