London Lions
Caledonia Gladiators

A second half comeback confirms London’s place in Sunday’s final as they eliminate the reigning champions in Birmingham.

Josh Sharma led the game with 19 points from the bench, making eight out of his nine shots.

After picking up another impressive European victory in midweek against Beşiktaş, the London Lions prepared themselves for the last four of the British Basketball League Trophy.

Their task was a tough one, however, as they were set to face the Trophy holders - the Caledonia Gladiators,

Last year, the Scots won the BBL Trophy for the first-ever time in franchise history as they edged past Cheshire Phoenix in Glasgow. The Lions also have pedigree in the competition, as they have reached the final twice in the previous three seasons.

This year, the venue was switched to the Utilita Arena in Birmingham, with the semi-finals and final scheduled to be played in the midlands.

London, who were debuting their new orange jerseys, lost the tip-off to the sky blue of Caledonia, who began the game as the better team. With 10 minutes of basketball in the books, the Gladiators led by 28-19.

A start to the game like this from the Lions could perhaps be expected at this stage of the season. Petar Božić’s are notoriously known as slow burners who find their feet as the match goes on. 

In the second quarter, London picked up their scoring as they converted 25 points in the lead up to halftime. The only issue was that Gareth Murray’s team scored 24 points themselves, with Mike Bothwell standing out for the defending champions.

As a result, the Caledonia Gladiators took an eight-point lead into the break.

The game itself saw both teams shoot at an underwhelming 39.7%, with London scoring just three three-pointers in the entire match.

Instead, the Lions found their success through their big men - Josh Sharma and Gabe Olaseni. The latter had 18 points along with 15 rebounds in just 17 minutes. The pair found success in the interior and possessed too much physicality for the Gladiators.

In the third quarter, London limited Caledonia to just 9 points whilst scoring 17 themselves. The team from the capital were beginning to go through the gears and take control of what was a competitive contest.

Going into the penultimate quarter, the game was locked in with the two teams level at 61-61. With a spot in the final on the line, the London Lions increased their intensity to commence a 24-14 run in the final 10 minutes.

Stanford alumni Josh Sharma took the reins in the game by making some easy buckets to give his team momentum.

The Gladiators failed to find any answers for London, who closed the game well with big plays at both ends of the floor.

The Lions will return to action tomorrow as they face Cheshire Phoenix in the final of the British Basketball League Trophy.

Watch the highlights from London Lions vs Caledonia Gladiators here.

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