BBL Cup Quarter-Finals
Leicester Riders 72-63 London Lions (11-20, 25-39, 48-45)
Leicester Arena 29 Nov 2019
The Leicester Riders took their place in the BBL Semi-Finals after a come from behind victory over the London Lions in an unlikely second half turn around.
Fans had seen this match up almost like the final with two of the most dominant teams in the last two seasons going head to head at the Leicester Arena.
The two Center’s opened the scoring as Alioune Tew first registered for the Lions before Nelson-Henry returned the compliment. Every other Lions’ starter scored as Brandon Peel’s bucket made it 2-11 after 5 minutes. Time-out Riders. That didn’t stop the Lions flow as Captain Joe Ikhinmwin drained a triple from the centre. At 4-18, Ward-Hibbert scored for Riders as they attempted to gain a foot hold, by the end of a blistering first quarter, the score was 11-20 with the Lions feeling they should have probably had more points on the board.
The Lions were forcing turnovers all over the court as Riders struggled for a rhythm. Ali Tew dunked to start off the second quarter, and it was much of the same, Peel made it 13-29 with 4.26 remaining. The largest lead of the game came at 17-35 before the home side put together a pointer to the second half with an 8-4 run making the half time score 25-39.
Cartwright opened proceedings for the Riders and Justin Robinson replied with a floater. From there the Lions went 0/6 on jump shots whilst the Riders went 6/7 turning the game on it’s head despite a Lions time out. Jules Dang-Akodo tied the game at 43. Again the Lions missed their next 6 attempts including three turnovers and an unsportsmanlike, but still the game was on, Jordan Whelan cut the deficit to 47-45 with 1:32 to play in the third. The home side could only add a solitary free throw to end the third up 48-45 the visitors scoring just 6 points in the quarter.
As the game ebbed and flowed, the lead was still two points at 53-51 with 6 minutes left, from there Andy Thomson hit for the home side but Whelan responded with a strong drive but was then called for a technical foul. The free throws administered, and Peel made it 57-55 as the tension rose. The game was then to change dramatically and swing to the home side, Joe Scott came off the bench to hit three three’s in one minute which despite scores from Peel and Ikhinmwin opened daylight between the teams at 66-59 and just over three minutes to play.
Allen-Jordan was blocked at the rim as both teams scrambled. No opne could score till Cartwright hit in the lane and the lead was 9 points and the game virtually over. The Lions would not score till there was 42 second s left, by then the home side were celebrating an unlikely turn around and a place in the BBL Cup Semi-finals against the Worcester Wolves.
We caught up with a disappointed Coach Vince Macaulay afterwards, “We didn’t really deserve anything from the game after that second half effort really. We had stuck to the game plan like glue in the first half and at half time we expected exactly what happened, shots to drop, the home rub of the green and their big names to try and go for it, We showed some naivety on defence but a lot of hurriedness on offence, We had to dig our heels in and didn’t, we didn’t lose to anything we hadn’t prepared for, but when the lights are on you need to stand up.”
The Lions now give up one of their trophies and will now turn to the start of the BBL League season next weekend when they entertain the Glasgow Rocks at the Copper Box on Sunday the 8th at 4pm. Tickets available HERE.