BBL Cup, Semi-Final, Second Leg
London Lions 97-85 Esh Group Eagles Newcastle (27-26, 53-45, 75-64)
(170-160 on aggregate)
London Lions overturned a slender First Leg deficit to overcome Esh Group Eagles Newcastle and reach the BBL Cup Final.
The Eagles had won 75-73 at Sport Central on Friday night, but it’s the Lions heading to Birmingham on Sunday 27 January, 2019 for the chance to win silverware as the one basket lead was just never going to be enough to prevent Coach Macaulay’s men completing the job on Sunday afternoon.
The Lions have been the form team in the BBL this season and showed that form with a solid display, once they got in front they were dogged and resilient as they resisted everything the Eagles threw at them.
It was the visitors who sped out 8-2 on the back of a pair of triples from Flournoy, but the Lions’ had their game plan and stuck to it, former two time MVP, Rahmon Fletcher was targeted defensively and even now he must be looking over his shoulder for a Lions defender. The Eagle’s talisman was locked down by Jordan Spencer in the first half to just 2 points whilst on the offensive end, the home side led by a point after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Ladarius Tabb and Paul Guede kept the scoreboard moving, and it was Guede who had the last say with a triple as the Lions led 53-45 at the break.
If Fletcher was sick of Spencer, it was Jerelle Okoro’s turn to hound him. Justin Robinson nailed some beautiful strikes before Spencer and Kervin Bristol combined for a two handed slam. It was Brandon Peel this time who hit a triple on the buzzer, this time the end of the third, as the Lions would lead by 9 on aggregate and 11 on the night. 75-64.
Despite a flurry from the Eagles, the Lions went on a 14-6 run to push the score out to 14-6 as Guede hit a pair of triples as the Eagles tried a zone defence to slow the rampant Lions down. As the end loomed for the visitors, pride saw them hit back but Robinson returned to the floor to bring the Lions home hitting 4 successive free throws as the Eagles had to foul, the game was up and the Lions are off to the NIA in Birmingham on the 27th of January, winning 97-85 and 170-160 on aggregate.
Key stats – The Lions connected with 13 triples in the contest at 40% shooting and were able to keep the dangerous Rahmon Fletcher to just four points and 5 assists in total.
Tabb led the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Robinson and Peel both added 19 points apiece, Peel adding 12 rebounds, Robinson 7 assists with no turnovers, to send their side into another Final. For the Eagles, Victor Moses was impressive with his 27 points but the Lions’ would not be denied.
(Report; Duncan Hooper, Pic, Ladarius Tabb, Graham Hodges)
Lions scorers – Tabb 22, Peel 19, Robinson 19, Spencer 14, Guede 9, Bristol 6, Okoro 5, Larkai 3, Lockhart 0, Ikhinmwin, Ekperuoh, Roberts.
Eagles Scorers – Moses 27, Smith 18, Williams 10