Former Toronto Raptor Sam Dekker led the way with 22 points, as London Lions made a winning start to the BBL Championship season with a robust 86-73 victory at B.Braun Sheffield Sharks, on Friday evening.
Dekker did most of the damage in the first half, adding four rebounds, as many assists and two steals in under 25 minutes of action. Big man Kosta Koufos, another NBA veteran, added 18 points and eight boards for the Lions, whilst Aron Best finished with ten points for the team.
Captain Ovie Soko scored Lions’ first competitive points of the season when he converted a pair at the charity stripe, but in an even first period it was Dekker who impressed with five points before Luke Nelson’s triple that gave the London side an 18-14 first period lead.
Sharma opened the second period scoring to extend Lions’ lead before Sheffield fought back to open a four point lead. Scores from Bekker and Best tied the game but it was Lions who had the last word in the first half, as Dekker was sent to the line after being fouled on a three-pointer. Dekker sunk all three shots to take his first half tally to 17 points give the visitors a 40-37 lead going into the locker room.
Dekker’s jump shot started what proved to be a strong third period for the visitors, and Koufos wrapped up an 8-0 run to open the quarter and give Lions a double-digit lead. Sheffield’s Nichols broke the run but Koufos was proving unstoppable in the paint, with his and-one giving the Lions a 55-41 lead with five minutes gone.
Mo Soluade’s triple saw the lead grow to 17 and although Sharks scored the final five points of the quarter, the visitors took a 64-51 lead into the final period.
A surprising call on Soluade saw Lions collect a bench technical foul, with Shark Nichols converting three free-throws to make it a ten point game but Dekker – who else? – hit four points in a 6-0 run as Lions regained the initiative.
Koufos hit seven points in an 11-4 run as Lions effective wrapped things up at 81-60 with 4:27 on the clock, allowing Schmidt to run his bench down the stretch, to set Lions up for next Friday’s big clash against Leicester at the Copper Box.
Next weeks game
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