Lions Keep Leicester Riders Keep at Bay to Claim 75-81. First-Half Domination Helps End the Riders’ 23-Game Home Winning Streak. Sam Dekker Goes for 21 Points, 7 Rebounds and 3 Assists. Josh Ward-Hibbert and Kosta Koufos Record Double-Doubles
In the dress rehearsal for the hotly anticipated BBL Cup final,the London Lions travelled to the midlands and claimed a vital 75-81 victory,taking a 2-0 lead in their regular season series.
Still judging an injury-hit squad, coach Ryan Schmidt went with a three-guard line-up of Jordan Taylor at the point, Luke Nelson at the shooting guard point and Josh Ward-Hibbert at the wing to start the game.
He matched this high-IQ backcourt and wing with the high-IQ front court of Sam Dekker and Kosta Koufos to excellent results that saw the Lions score 47 points and stagnate the Riders' offence to just 28 points in the first half.
Schmidt matched this high-IQ three-guard line-up with the high-IQ frontcourt of Sam Dekker and Kosta Koufos to excellent results that saw the Lions score 47 points and stagnate the Riders' offence to just 28 points in the first half.
Coach Schmidt’s short-handed and reconstructed nine-person rotation outplayed the Riders' regular line-up (sans the absence of Canadian center Mo Walker). By halftime, the Lions led 13 to 7 in team assists as the Riders continuously found it challenging to generate fluidity in their offence. Jordan Taylor, Luke Nelson and Sam Dekker took turns creating opportunities for the Lions to score, with Taylor dishing out most of their assists.
The Londoners also outrebounded Rob Paternostro’s squad, 30 to 18, during the first half, allowing the Lions to take advantage of second-chance opportunities.
The Lions' defensive identity held the midland-based outfit to just 9 points in the second quarter. Not only did London suppress the Riders' second-chance opportunities, but they also pushed Leicester’s offence out to the midrange and further afield.
Rob Paternostro’s side picked things up in the second half, coming out the gate to an 11-4 run to start the third period, closing the gap to 12 points. The Riders could only close the gap to 10 points in the third as London continuously kept them at bay.
The fourth quarter saw the Rider take advantage of London’s now fatigued, injury-hit, nine-person rotation closing the gap to just 4 points with less than thirty seconds left on the clock. Although the East Midlands squad scored 23 points to the Lions’ 16, it wasn’t enough to force the game into overtime or snatch the win.
Sam Dekker finished the game with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. During his 33 minutes on the court, Dekker carved up the Rider defence with his three-level scoring ability, weaved his way through the paint, hit mid-range shots and connected from long-range.
Lions’ player of the game, Josh Ward-Hibbert, claimed his first double-double of the season, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to go with an assist and a much-needed steal. Double-double magnet Kosta Koufos contributed 17 points, 14 rebounds, an assist, and a block to help the Lions end the Riders' 23-Game home winning streak.
Luke Nelson had an efficient night of shooting from the field, knocking down 62% of his shots, including 3 of 6 from long range and 2 of 2 from the painted area to the tune of 14 points. The GB international also contributed 6 rebounds and dished out 5 dimes to help the Lions' efforts.
In only his second taste of domestic action, Jordan Taylor orchestrated the Lions' offence to the tune of 10 assists. He did this whilst putting up 7 points, grabbing 4 rebounds and blocking a shot.
Vojtech Hruban came off the bench and dropped 10 points, shooting 60% from the field, including 2 of 3 shots from the long distance.