The London Lions continued their unbeaten run in a thrilling overtime victory against a resilient Newcastle Eagles on Monday evening.
Despite playing less than 27 minutes, Lions in-form guard Matt Morgan put up a staggering nine three-pointers to kill the hopes of what would have been a shock upset in the capital.
Before the game had started, the hosts were boosted by the return of last season’s MVP, Sam Dekker. The ex-NBA forward made his first appearance of the season following an injury that kept him sidelined for the first few weeks of the new campaign.
Having missed the previous three games, head coach Petar Božić was also back on the Lions bench having previously tested positive for COVID-19.
It was the Eagles began the game as the better team, surprising a lackluster Lions side who looked sloppy on both ends of the court. Although Newcastle were aided by the sharp shooting of Jordan Johnson, London had their very own lethal weapon in Matt Morgan – who closed the first half with five three-pointers of his own. After 20 minutes of action, there wasn’t much to separate the two teams with the game tied at 52-a-piece heading into the second half.
In the third quarter, the Eagles continued to thrive and made ground in what was an impressive spell for the visitors. The Lions were restricted to just 15 points, with a 10-point deficit separating the two sides before an all-important fourth quarter.
Newcastle were eager to snap London’s streak and came extremely close to doing so. The visitors led by as much as 14 points with less than seven minutes on the clock. However, the Lions went through the gears to quickly erase the deficit – which required them being at their very best on both ends of the floor. After 40 minutes of basketball, overtime was required to determine a winner following four quarters of pure drama and entertainment.
The Lions went on to win the final period 17-12, completing a 109-104 victory against their toughest test of the season so far.
The game was London’s first of four this week with a trip to Riga next on the agenda ahead of Wednesday’s EuroCup showdown against Prometey. The team will then be back in action on Friday in Sheffield, before returning home to the Copper Box on Sunday against Surrey.