Fourth Quarter Dominance Seals 97-80 Victory Over Slask Wroclaw for the London Lions. Sam Dekker, Ovie Soko and Luke Nelson Combine for 49 points to Claim Third EuroCup Win.
The London Lions entered their match-up with the Polish champs Slask Wroclaw looking to follow up their historic away victory against Hamburg and did not disappoint their loud and proud home faithful that came to support their hometown heroes.
Sam Dekker recorded a team-high 18 points on 62% shooting from the floor. The forward dominated the paint knocking down 75% of his buckets whilst grabbing 4 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists.
GB International Luke Nelson shot 50% from the three-point line and hit 3 of 4 free throw shots, racking up 16 points in the process. The Worthing-raised combo guard also led the team in the assist column with 6 dimes.
Although he missed the previous game against Hamburg through injury, vocal talisman Ovie Soko slotted back into the rotation seamlessly and was almost unstoppable in the paint. Entering the game as the Lions’ second-leading EuroCup scorer, at 13.0 points per game, the North London-raised forward kept up that same energy by putting up 15 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.
Per their now-EuroCup-wide-famed defensive identity, the Lions opened their scoring on the back of an on-ball steal and hustle play from recent signing Miye Oni. The former Ivy League star wrestled the rock off Slask’s Jakub Niziol and saved it from going out of bounds with a one-handed save along the baseline.
That hustle play, which a Sam Dekker 2-point floater capped off, led the Lions into a 14-0 run. During this impressive run, the Lions shot 57% from long range via 3-pointers from Tomislav “Zuba” Zubcic, Sam Dekker and Luke Nelson. However, Slask Wroclaw’s Jeremiah Martin, Aleksander Dziewa and Kodi Justice helped their Polish-based squad to get back into the game with a 9-16 run to end the first period.
In the second quarter, the Lions saw their 25-18 lead evaporate as they struggled to contain Slask Wroclaw in the closing minutes of the period. London initially got off to a great start stretching their lead to 15 points via buckets from Soko, Dekker, Oni, Kosta Koufos, “Zuba”, and Vojtech Hruban to the tune of a 45-30 advantage.
However, London’s scoring stalled, which opened the door for Slask. In the last 3 minutes, the Polish champs fought their way back into contention off the back of a 15-3 run. By the halftime buzzer, the hometown heroes had scored 23 points but conceded 27 points, resulting in a slim 48-45 lead.
Although a low-scoring third period, the London Lions had tightened their defence. Slask was only able to put up 18 points. By the halfway mark of the quarter, London held an 11-point lead, which again dissipated in the period’s closing minutes. That run was capped off by Kodi Justice’s third-quarter ending buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
After a less-than-stellar third quarter, the Lions picked up their pace, their defensive aggression and executed their plays a lot better in the fourth, recording 29 points and stalling Slask Wroclaw’s scoring to 17 points. With their defensive identity locked in, the Londoners forced Slask into 5 turnovers and 8 missed shots, causing Slask to record their lowest point total of all four quarters.
London started the period with back-to-back buckets from Aaron Best and Dekker, which sparked a 16-2 run, capped off by a sublime long-range 3-point dagger from Vojtech Hruban. After back-to-back buckets from Slask, Soko returned with an energy-shifting dunk, putting the Lions up by 18 points. The Lions closed the quarter with free throws from Koufos and a transition dunk from Miye Oni.