London Lions
Lointek Gernika Bizkaia

The London Lions leave Spain victoriousfollowing a tough battle against Gernika in the first leg of EuroCup’s Round of16.

The Brits are now in a favourable position toadvance to the quarterfinals, with Ivana Katanić standing out for the visitors.

Since their defeat to DVTK back in September, the London Lions havebeen on a phenomenal run of form that has seen them get past every team intheir path. In fact, the reigning Women’s British Basketball League championshave lost just twice since their EuroCup exit defeat to Villeneuve last season(February 2023) - which highlights just how much talent lies within theirroster.

After beating Bursa in Round 1, Stella Kaltsidou’s side were drawnagainst Liga Femenina’s Gernika - who have been in mixed form this season.

The Spaniard’s finished second in Group D and scrapped past KangoeroesMechelen in the previous round by just six points. The hosts entered the gamehaving lost three of their previous four games, knowing they had to be at theirvery best in what was a huge fixture with a lot on the line.

The opening quarter of the game saw the visitors start strong, puttingin effort on both ends of the floor. Temi Fagbenle was a testament to this; the2017 WNBA champion was scoring and rebounding well, in addition to accumulatinga steal and a block. Combining this with back-to-back three-pointers from KatSnytsina, the Lions looked to be in a good position in the early stages of thegame.

However, Gernika found their range towards the end of the quarter.American guard Stephanie Watts stood out for the home side, who trailed by fourpoints following 10 minutes of play.

From here, Mario López’ team found themselves entering a dry spell -where they failed to find a basket in the first four minutes of the secondquarter. Despite this, London was not able to capialise, which resulted in thelead staying stagnant.

The Lions recovered by closing the quarter out well, taking a healthyeight-point lead into the halftime break.

The next quarter of the game saw high scoring from both teams as theintensity increased in the match. Gernika began the 10-minute period strongly,but their efforts were matched by a London side who refused to back down. GBinternational Holly Winterburn was able to spur her team on with a big secondhalf performance - making some valuable buckets whilst still being a presencedefensively.

Last second free throws from the hosts took two points off adouble-digit lead, which was trimmed to eight points heading into the finalquarter.

The Spanish club pushed the Lions and the high volume of fouls tookthe pace out of the game. Roso Buch was doing everything she could to keepGernika in the game - the guard led the match with 19 points.

However, London fought hard until the dying seconds, doing enough tokeep themselves in the lead by a respectable margin. With the tie ultimatelybeing decided by an aggregate scoreline, the two teams showed no signs ofrespite - ensuring they were in the best position possible for the second legnext Thursday.

Watch the full game here.

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