Londoners Get Revenge on Gladiators for BBL Trophy Exit; Claim 99-67 Home Win. Team Combine for 29 Assists En Route to Victory—Player of the Game, Sam Dekker Records 17-Point, 5-Rebound, 3-Assist and 2-Steal Performance.
Three weeks after their nail-biting BBL Trophy defeat to the Caledonia Gladiators, the London Lions finally got retribution on their Scottish rivals with a dominating 99-67 home win.
Sam Dekker led the team with a +25 plus-minus box score due to his 17-point, 5-rebound, 3-assist, 2-steal contribution to the victory. The combo forward, who spent most of the game playing at the 4-spot, shot 66% from the floor, including four triples from beyond the arc.
The Gladiators got out to a 1-5 start via buckets from Ivory Coast national player Patrick Tapé and a triple from Fraser Malcolm. However, the Lions took a 7-5 lead via three back-to-back-to-back buckets from Josh Sharma, a run highlighted by Sharma’s status of liberty dunk off Jordan Taylor’s dime. The early 1-5 lead was the last time the Glasgow-based outfit held an edge during the encounter as the Londoners extended their advantage.
Zuba’s followed this up with a layup (27-12) which, in turn, the Scots followed up with their own 0-5 run to cut the lead down to ten points, forcing Coach Ryan Schmidt into an early timeout. Although the planned ATO didn’t bear any fruits, the Lions continued to shoot holes through the Gladiator’s poor perimeter defence during their 6-0 run (33-17).
Back-to-back buckets from Ali Fraser and Jeremiah Bailey’s calm demeanour at the free throw line helped the bench mob-duo cut the lead back down to ten points again. Unfortunately for them, their poor perimeter defence allowed Dekker to sink yet another 3-pointer (36-23). This brace sparked a 9-5 barrage of buckets that saw the Lions extend their hold on the game to 17 points (45-28). Gladiator’s aforementioned poor perimeter defence reared its ugly head again with 12 seconds left when Dekker hit a slick step-back triple.
Sharma won the battle of the FIBA international bigs in the opening seconds of the third quarter when the 7-footer caused Ivory Coast national player Patrick Tapé to miss his hook shot in the low post. The Team GB grabbed the board and handed the rock off to Mo Soluade, who followed the ‘Basketball Gods’ rules and fed the big man in transition, who then laid it up (50-30).
Caledonia put up an early fight in the third period, cutting the London advantage to 17 points. But this was soon met with a 10-0 Lions charge that pushed the score to 65-38. Former Lion Alihodzic cut the lead down to 25, only for Taylor and Hruban to show onlookers how poorly Caledonia’s closeouts were, as they knocked down three 3-pointers, back-to-back-to-back (74-40). Several arrant foul calls sent the Gladiators to the line, which they took full advantage of towards the end of the quarter before Hruban closed the period out with a layup (76-46).
Caledonia fought valiantly in the fourth but to not much avail scoring 21 points yet conceding 23. Uganda national team big Jonathan “Jono” Komagum got in on the 3-point fun knocking down a trey ball as get back for turning down an earlier opportunity (79-48).
The young forward/center continued his good recent form shortly after with a nasty no-look dime to Sharma in the low post, who dunked it and put the Lions ahead by 35 points. Jono continued his tyranny several seconds later, picking the pockets of Caledonia skipper Jonny Bunyan for a fast break transition bucket. Both teams traded buckets towards the end of the quarter, but London was in complete control.
Fan favourite and dunking machine Josh Sharma continued his excellent run of form with 19 points, six rebounds, three blocks, one assist and one steal whilst shooting a gaudy 72% from the field.
Vojtech Hruban made it rain downtown connecting four of seven 3-pointers to en route to 21 points with two steals, two assists and one rebound. Olympian and defensive terror Miye Oni lead the game with three steals to go with his four assists, six rebounds and six points.
Josh Ward-Hibbert helped the bench mob with ten points, two rebounds and three assists. Ugandan national team player Jonathan Komagum brought the energy off the bench with seven points, two assists, one steal and one rebound. Tomislav “Zuba” Zubcic contributed eight points, two rebounds and one assist.