London Lions remain top of the BBL Championship table despite Friday night's 87-81 loss a B.Braun Sheffield Sharks.
A poor start to the game gave the London side still missing the injured Sam Dekker a mountain to climb, and despite outscoring the hosts 22-16 in the final period they slipped to their first domestic defeat of the season.
Tomislav Zubcic's 25 points on nine-from-16 shooting proved to be in vain for Ryan Schmidt's team, while Vojtech Hruban had 20 points and six rebounds. Aaron Best dished out six assists to go with his 13 points while Kosta Koufos had a big night on the boards with 14 rebounds, adding six points and three assists.
Kipper Nichols led Sharks with 22 points, five assists and four rebounds, with Saeed Nelson adding 19 points, seven boards and four assists.
Zubcic scored the first basket of the game but that proved to be the only time London led, and although Best tied the game at 9-9 with 6:27 on the clock, Sharks replied with a 10-3 run to open a seven-point lead.
Best hit another triple before Josh Sharma converted a pair at the foul line to tie the game at 19 but a 12-0 run saw Sharks take control of the game before Hruban's triple cut the deficit to 31-22 at the first break.
Sharks converted a pair of and-ones in an 8-0 run as they extended their lead to 17 in the opening stage of the second period before Best got Lions off the mark.
Zubcic's and-one followed by a jump shot kept Lions in the game, and Josh Ward-Hibbert hit a trey to make it a ten-point game before Hruban's three-point play cut the deficit to 44-39 going into final three minutes of the half. But despite five Nelson points, Lions trailed 53-45 at half-time.
A pair of Best baskets kept London in the game early in the second half and Hruban cut the deficit to 59-55 midway through the third quarter with a pair at the charity stripe.
But that was as good as it got in for Lions in the third period as Nichols started and finished an 8-2 run for the hosts and although Hruban hit a nice shot, a Banks triple sent Sharks into the final break leading 71-59.
Ward-Hibbert converted from the Land of Plenty to open the fourth period and Hruban drove to the basket to make it 74-66 heading into the final five minutes of the game,
Nichols and Zubcic exchanged triples but it was still a ten-point game with three minutes on the clock.
Successful trips to the foul line from Koufos and Hruban cut the deficit to six with two minutes remaining before the latter hit a jump shot to make it 81-77 with 1:25 remaining.
Nelson replied only for Zubcic to again make it a four-point game, but Nelson's floater effectively killed the game as Lions' fight-back ran out of time.