London Lions Perform Valentine’s Day Massacre on Surrey Scorchers to Claim 88-62 Victory. Player of the Game, Luke Nelson, Comes Off the Bench to Record a 17-Point, 9-Assist and 3-Steal Performance.
London broke their duck a little over one minute into the first quarter when 2-way tyrant Mo Soluade realised that Josh Sharma had a mismatch in the low post. Once he had the rock in his hands, the GB center took full advantage of the height discrepancy and put the Lions up 2-0.
Unnerved, Surrey returned fire with a 0-7 surge to take an early 2-7 lead. Former Lion Ryan Martin, looking to show out in front of his former fans, extended Surrey's lead to 4-9 with a pair of freebies from the charity stripe. But the lead was short-lived as Team GB star Luke Nelson followed up his two free throw shots with a triple off a Bradley Kaboza dime to tie the game at 9-9.
Moments later, Surrey extended the lead to 9-11. Still, rookie C/F Jonathan Komagum stopped them from extending it further with some much-needed rim protection, blocking Luke Busumbru’s shot out to the courtside seats. A mini back and-forth ensued until the last minute of the period when the Lions went on a 5-0 run to close out the period to claim a 17-13 lead.
The second quarter's first half was much smoother for the Scorchers than it was for the Lions. Missed shots, bad fouls and a turnover allowed the Guildford-based club to wrestle the lead from the Lions via a 3-9 opening surge (20-22). However, Surrey’s run sparked an immediate fight-back from London’s squadron to the tune of a 10-0 run to put the lead firmly back in the hands of the Lions (30-22).
The crowd-pleasing run included a non-traditional and-1 play when Busumbru hit Luke “The Nuke” Nelson’s arm as he connected on a corner 3-point shot. As a result, the visibly frustrated Surrey play-caller and former London City Royals head coach Lloyd Gardner called a timeout to talk to his troops.
The much-needed breather helped to refocus the Guildford tourists and ignited their 2-7 run to cut the London lead to just three points (32-29) going into the last two minutes of the period.
Unfortunately for Surrey, Ryan Martin’s foul on Vojtech Hruban, as he attempted a 3-point shot, upended their scoring momentum and sent the Czech national player to the line for three shots.
BBL highlight reel and South Sudan national guard Padiet Wang, who finished the game with 12 points, three assists, and four turnovers, cut the lead back to four points (35-31) after he hit a statue of liberty-esque dunk via a straight-line drive to the bucket. But twenty seconds later, Tomislav “Zuba” Zubcic hit a soul-destroying triple to end the period and give London a well-deserved 38-31 lead.
Ryan Martin’s two-point bucket to open the third quarter gave Surrey’s fightback a glimmer of hope. But that was dashed as London increased their defensive intensity and went on a 9-0 run, forcing Scorchers into a four-minute scoring drought. Although sporting a 47-35 lead, London kept the pressure on Surrey via buckets from captain Aaron Best, who finished the game with 17-points.
Nelson and Sharma again showed why they are the BEST pick-and-roll duo in the league when the 7-foot big man rolled to the basket and connected on an alley-oop dunk, extending the Lion advantage to 53-39.
Shortly after Best hit another one of his three-point shots, Sharma and Nelson connected again, but this time to help Vojtech Hruban. Sharma set a screen on Surrey Scorcher vet Tayo Ogedengbe which allowed Hruban to have a clear sight of the bucket and hit a triple off Nelson’s dime (59-41). Lloyd Gardner’s troops closed the quarter with two free-throw shots to cut the lead down to 15 points.
Aaron Best opened up the final quarter with an alley-oop dunk off Mo Soluade’s slick dime. Less than forty seconds later, Soluade continued his tyranny with a triple to push the lead to a 64-46 advantage. These two opening buckets were part of the Lions’ opening 11-2 surge, giving them a 23-point lead.
Surrey’s defence struggled under the sheer might of London’s offence, powered by their lockdown defence. One of the best examples of this came at the 07:12 mark. Sharma poked the ball from Wang’s hands, which Best picked up and floated back to Sharma in the frontcourt, who then laid a touch pass to Croatian sensation Zubcic for an alley-oop dunk.
Ryan Martin cut the gaudy lead down to 19 points, but London kept the Guilford representatives at bay. Surrey hit three back-to-back-back triples towards the end of the quarter, but Luke Nelson put an exclamation mark on the period with his three-point make to give London an 88-62 Valentine’s Day win.