London Lions
Melikgazi Kayseri

The London Lions overcome Melikgazi Kayseri and their passionate Turkish fans to boost their chances of progression to the EuroCup’s final four.

In what was the first leg of a two-game quarter-final series, the Lions now take home an eight-point advantage into the next meeting at the Copper Box Arena onWednesday February 28th.

Last season’s EuroLeague scoring leader,Megan Gustafson, led the Lions’ scoring on the night with 26 points, while Karlie Samuelson also poured in 25 of her own. Great Britain’s Temi Fagbenle also contributed on the evening with a double-double of 15 points with 10 rebounds.

Led by Gustafon’s momentum and timely buckets, the visitors got off to an early 11-point scoring run to lead 18-9. But by the end of the first quarter, Melikgazi recovered to narrow the Lions lead to just four points (30-26).

Samuelson had the play of the quarter with a tough and-one, adjusting her body after a foul to float one in off the glass.The 28-year-old shot a perfect four for four in the first 10 minutes, which followed on from her perfect shooting night in Manchester on the weekend.

The Lions produced their biggest scoring run of the game, of 12 unanswered points, during the second quarter but conceded an eight-point scoring run themselves in the final minutes of the period. As a result, they led 46-40 going into the half.

In the third quarter, 15 of the Lions’ 22 points came via three-pointers, with Samuelson draining three of the team’s five from behind the arc to help take a nine-point advantage into the final 10 minutes.

Early in the fourth, Shey Peddy dished out one of her 10 assists in a deceptive give and go with Fagbenle, that left the centre with space to attack the basket. One of the Lions’ last baskets was the play of the game, as the reigning WBBL champions moved the ball well to play out of a full-court press with Katsiaryna Snytsina eventually setting up Gustafson for an and-one lay-up with a behind the back pass.

A clear disparity throughout the game was on the glass where the Lions grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, compared to the Turkish side’s four, which led to 14 second chance points.

Reaching the EuroCup quarterfinals is already new heights for the British side, but now they have put themselves in prime position to reach the final four of the tournament. The visiting side led for 36 minutes in the 40-minute game, and remarkably remain unbeaten in the EuroCup as well as domestically.

Stella Kaltsidou’s side will next face the Cardiff Met Archers on the road in the Women’s British Basketball League Championship on Saturday afternoon. 

Watch the full game here.

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