London Lions 80-63 London City Royals (16-16, 36-35, 62-57)
London Lions continued their strong start to the BBL season with a dominant derby victory over London City Royals, at the Copper Box.
Vince Macaulay’s side improve to 10-2 to stay top of the league, while the Royals drop to a 5-4 record ahead of Sunday’s trip to Plymouth Raiders.
A huge London crowd came out to see the best British basketball players in the country and Matthew Bryan-Amaning duly got proceedings under way with a slam dunk to start the game. League MVP, Justin Robinson replied with a triple and we were off for a pulsating first quarter that bristled with excitement although both teams were a little tight as it ended 16-16.
The Lions would steal the lead at the half on a pair of free throws but what we had seen was a high energy first half with errors on both sides but full on no holds barred effort.
In the third quarter, the Lions poise and organisation began to shine through. The mercurial Robinson was influencing his team mates as first Jordan Spencer hit a triple then Kervin Bristol rose high to hit a fifteen-footer. The Royals were looking hurried, a little too much one on one. Ladarius Tabb on his way to 23 points and 17 rebounds simply punished them on every Lions’ fast break, when Spencer hit another triple to close the quarter, the Lions led 62-57.
The fourth quarter came along and you could see the result of the Lions’ relentless running, Royals tired, Bristol and Tabb blocked shots. The Lions’ would hold the visitors to just 6 points in the quarter, and they used that momentum to pull away with a 14-0 close as Robinson iced the win from the free throw line.
Key stat – The fact Royals were held to just six points in the fourth period and overall shooting at 33% on the night.
Game hero(es) – Tabb posted a derby double-double by half-time and finished with 23 points and 17 boards, while back-court duo Robinson and Spencer shared 34 points in the win.
The Lions’ now face Sheffield Sharks on Sunday with just a day rest, same as the Sharks, who overwhelmed the Newcastle Eagles on Friday night.
Report; Duncan Hooper, Pic, (Kervin Bristol) Carol Moir
Lions scorers – Tabb 23, Robinson 17, Spencer 17, Peel 10, Bristol 8, Okoro 4, Lockhart 1, Larkai 0, Ikhinmwin 0, Guede 0, Roberts, Ekperuoh.