The London Lions seek revenge on the team that caused them playoff heartbreak last season – becoming what is believed to be the first-ever British club to win in Spain.
Gabe Olaseni controlled the game in Badalona, putting up a well-balanced 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Last season, the London Lions became the first British Basketball League team to play in the EuroCup since the Guildford Heat in 2007. After finishing 7th in their group, they were drawn to play former EuroLeague champions Joventut in the first round of the playoffs – which ended in an 11-point defeat in Spain.
This season, London returned to Palau Badalona with revenge in their sights – taking on a side with an identical record to their own.
Having fell short in three out of their last four games – including back-to-back home defeats in Europe – the Lions were determined to leave Spain with a crucial victory.
In the first quarter, the Liga ACB team started strongly – outscoring London 28-20 in the first 10 minutes of the game.
The Lions, however, are known to be slow burners. In the second quarter, Petar Božić’s team picked up their game and limited Badalona to just eight points whilst scoring 24 of their own. 6’9 centre Gabe Olaseni stole the headlines in the first half with a monster dunk that inspired London’s late surge in the remaining minutes of the quarter.
Olaseni continued to be the x-factor in the game as the match rolled on into the third quarter. The big man made the Spanish opposition feel his presence as he continued to cause problems in the paint.
Despite Joventut’s resilience, the Lions did a great job to persist in the third quarter – taking a 10-point lead into the final 10 minutes of an important EuroCup clash.
Although the hosts tried to make it a nervy finish, London kept their noses ahead to complete a statement victory against the villains of last season.
The Lions will be disappointed to see they turned the ball over 14 times in the game. However, they did win the battle on the boards and were the team moving the ball better on the evening. Their nine steals in the game is symbolic of their grit and determination that consequently won them the match.
It was also a special night for Lions forward Conor Morgan, who returned to Joventut having played for three years in Badalona.
Next on the agenda for the British Basketball League leaders is a trip to Leicester on Friday evening.
Watch the highlights from Club Joventut Badalona vs London Lions here.