London Lions Dominate Hamburg in the Paint to Record Historic Sixth EuroCup 83-66 Win & Clinch Spot in the Playoffs. Kosta Koufos Earns 17-Point, 10-Rebound Double-Double in Famous Victory.
The evening’s encounter started with both teams going shot for shot but with neither team playing commanding defence nor earning multiple stops. However, eventual Player of the Game Kosta Koufos sparked a 6-0 that was capped off with a breakaway Miye Oni dunk to give the Lions a 10-6 lead, forcing the Northern German side into a timeout.
Undeterred by the back-to-back surge, Hamburg came out of the timeout guns-a-blazing, executing their ATO to perfection, resulting in a Christoph Philipps triple, followed by Kendale McCullum's 2-point bucket. The mini run gave the Germans a slender one-point lead (10-11). Energised by the four-thousand-strong home crowd, the Lions sought retribution and ended the period on a 9-5 charge to the tune of a 19-16 lead going into the second quarter
The Lions opened up the second quarter with a 12-6 surge via contributions from Koufos, Miye Oni (who finished the game with a EuroCup season-high of 14 points and five rebounds), Sam Dekker and Jordan Taylor. The en mass scoring effort earned London a 31-21 lead over Hamburg.
The Lions’ re-energised defensive identity continued to lock up Hamburg’s offence throughout the period to just 12 points. But London’s offence, although struggling to connect from the 3-point line, generated 23 points in return, giving Head Coach Ryan Schmidt’s troops a 42-30 lead heading into the halftime break.
By the end of the first half, 3-level scorer Sam Dekker led the London troops with 10 points and six assists, shooting an efficient four for five from the field and two for two from the charity stripe. As a team, London struggled from long distance, connecting on just a mere three triples from their collective 12 attempts. But the Londoners were almost unstoppable within the semi-circle connecting on 57% of their shots.
Although the Lions made it difficult for Hamburg to gain points from the mid-range to the paint, they struggled to defend the 3-point line in the first half, allowing Hamburg to connect on 50% (four of eight) of their makes.
The start of the third was much like the first quarter, with both team trading buckets but neither able to string together back-to-back stops. James Woodard got things cracking for the German side, followed by a bucket from Koufos.
This back-and-forth affair continued throughout the period and allowed the home-town-favourites to hold on to their lead. Hamburg cut the lead down to 11 points by the end of the quarter, but the Londoners always appeared to be in control and not nervous about any impending run.
A 7-2 London surge at the start of the fourth got things off to a terrific start for the Lions, extending their lead to 70-53, and things continued to get worse for the outmatched Germans.
Miye Oni knocked down a sublime corner triple to push out the Loins’ lead to an 81-61 advantage which subsequently forced Hamburg into a timeout. However, the timeout never bared the fruits that Hamburg playcaller Benka Barloschky wanted as Christoph Philipps could not convert the German ATO into points.
Hamburg ended the quarter on back-to-back buckets, but it was too little too late as London picked up a famous 83-66 victory and officially qualified for the EuroCup playoffs!