London Lions
Beşiktaş Istanbul

The Lions put on a show at a packed-out Copper Box Arena to ease past Beşitkaş in the EuroCup.

Matt Morgan lead the game with 20 points, helping London to complete a clean sweep over the Turkish side.

A sell-out crowd at the Copper Box arena saw over 2,000 Beşiktaş fans add to the electric atmosphere in London.

When the two sides faced off in Turkey at the back end of 2023, the Lions narrowly came away with an 80-83 victory. Fast forwarding just over two months, Beşiktaş sit in fifth place and fighting for atop four spot, which would reward them with homecourt advantage in the playoffs.

Gabe Olaseni, who was recently crowned England’s Basketball Player of the Year, was the star of the show when the teams last met in November, dropping 24 points. Having previously played in Turkey, the GB international was fully aware of just how important the Turkish crowd could prove to be in East London.

The visitors were spurred on by the crowd in the early stages of the match, helping the Turkish side to take a 6-0 lead in the game. The Lions slowly worked their way back into the contest with Kareem Queeley tying things up with a three-pointer from range.

London’s defence proved strong at times inthe first quarter as Beşiktaş struggled to handle the physicality of JoshSharma. However, missed opportunities on offense cost the home side, with arange of shots missed at the free throw line.

A piece of magic from guard Luke Nelsonsaved the Lions from trailing with 10 minutes of basketball played, as he hit apinpoint jump shot to take the lead at the buzzer with the score at 18-17.

As the second quarter commenced, the onuswas on the home side to take control of the game. Luke Nelson once again took responsibility and built on his momentum by hitting a three-pointer from downtown to build the Lions’ lead.

This proved a sign of things to come as the hosts began to pull away, extending their lead over the side from Istanbul to 30-20with less than four minutes played in the second quarter. The game remained an exciting contest as Derek Needham sunk a three-pointer, much to the delight of the ever-present Beşiktaş fans.

However, London’s Canadian Conor Morgan responded instantly with a three of his own to nullify any momentum from the away side.

The Lions stayed focused on seeing out the half with a 14-point lead going into the break.

In the second half, London was slow in coming out of the blocks again - allowing the former Turkish champions to quickly halve their deficit to seven points thanks to a combined effort from Angel Delgado and Matthew Mitchell.

As Beşiktaş attempted to keep the game competitive with the Lions’ lead dwindling to just six points, essential contributions from Donte Grantham and Josh Sharma brought the fans to their feet to reignite their spirit going into the final quarter.

With the home side’s halftime lead restored, the Lions continued to dominate – increasing their lead to 18 points.

The hosts remained focused on seeing out the final quarter in a professional manner by drowning out the noise of the Beşiktaş fans with free-flowing basketball. Petar Božić’s side grew their lead continually and as the final buzzer sounded, the Lions were victorious.

This win for the Londoners puts pressure on Tel Aviv in second place, with both teams having equal records heading into the final rounds of the regular season.

Watch the highlights from London Lions vs Beşiktaş Istanbul here.

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