London Lions
Newcastle Eagles

The London Lions won their first game of this season’s BBL Trophy, powering past the Newcastle Eagles with a dominant second half display.

Guard Luke Nelson stood out for the hosts, scoring 20 points along with an impressive seven assists.

January is BBL Trophy time in the United Kingdom, which offers the Lions an opportunity to win a piece of silverware that they missed out on in the last two years.

In February 2023, London fell short by two points in Glasgow - which led to an early exit in the quarterfinals. This year, Petar Božić’s side will be looking to make it to the final in Birmingham and lift a trophy that they have not won since 2021.

Heading into opening night at the Copper Box, the Lions were without reigning league MVP, Sam Dekker - alongside Matt Morgan, Tarik Phillip and Mo Soluade.

The visitors were also short-handed on the night, as Marc Steutel worked with an eight-man rotation.

The opening 10 minutes of the game saw a mammoth 15 fouls in a quarter that lasted close to 30 minutes. The match was being played at a slow pace which seemed to suit the Eagles, who made life difficult for the hosts in the early stages.

Gabe Olaseni looked a bright spark for London as the big man used his size to make an impact on both ends of the floor. The Hawkeyes alumni put up 18 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds in what was another impressive performance from the 32-year-old.

Despite his best efforts, the Lions could not pull away from Newcastle. Each time the hosts looked like they were finding their feet in the game, the Eagles found a way to bite back and keep the game close.

Newcastle won at the Copper Box at the back end of 2023 and proved to be tough competitors once again in the capital. Turnovers seemed to be a problem for London who had 9 heading into halftime. As a result, the visitors led by three points heading into the break.

In the third quarter, the match remained within arms reach for Newcastle - despite the Lions enjoying a late burst that saw them win the 10-minute period by 10 points.

The Eagles began the fourth quarter brightly, but the hosts then took things up a gear to close out the match in style - winning by a 22-point margin.

With the first game of this year’s British Basketball League Trophy in the books, the Lions will now look ahead to Sunday’s game against the Leicester Riders at the Copper Box Arena.

Watch the highlights from London Lions vs Newcastle Eagles here.

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