London Lions booked a place in the BBL Trophy final as they defeated Bristol Flyers 85-81 at the Copper Box, on Wednesday evening.
Lions went into the game with a 20-point aggregate lead having won 81-61 in the West Country last month and James Vear’s side will now face Cheshire Phoenix at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on Sunday March 20.
With Isaiah Reese and Jordan Williams still missing through injury it was again a depleted Lions team taking to the court, with Lorenzo Cugini getting a rare start and UEL student Bradley Kaboza getting a place on the bench.
It was another big night from Dirk Williams as he sunk four triples on his way to a 22-point, six rebound game, while Will Neighbour also had a productive evening with 17 points and three boards. Cugini finished with 13 points and four assists on a night where all ten available Lions got on the scoresheet.
Flyers were led by the impressive Trejon Jacob who hit seven triples on the way to a 28 points night but 17 unanswered points across the end of the first period and the start of the second proved key for the home side as they continued their successful defence of the Trophy.
Kylor Kelley’s jump shot gave Lions the first lead of the game before Cugini’s baseline drive was rewarded with a trip to the foul line where he put the hosts 4-1 ahead.
Williams’ first three of the game kept Lions ahead before Flyers went on a 9-2 run to take a three point lead. That set the tone for the period; Cuginie’s and-one putting Lions back up by a point before Flyers hit six straight points ontly to see Anre Lckhart covert an and-one to cut Bristol’s lead to 21-19 at the first break.
Will Neighbour hit a trey before converting a lovely Robinson pass to era that deficit and give Lions an early three point lead in the second period .before Williams’ loater forced Bristol coach Andre Kaboza to call a timeout with 7:40 on the clock and his team trailing 26-21.
Kaboza marked his BBL Cup with a fast break basket before Williams git another triple to make it a ten-point game. The 17-0 run was finally ended by Jacob but Tawiah converted a massive dunk onn Cugini’s assist and Neighbour’s game took the lead on the night out to 13.
Six Bristol points were answered by another Neighbour triple and despite Josh Rogers’ buzzer beater the hosts took a 42-36 lead into the locker room
That advantage was quickly erased as Flyers converted a pair of three-point plays to open the second half before Justin Robinson broke the 8-0 run with two pairs at the foul line.
A pair of Cugini triples got the crowd on their feet as Lions led by four with 6:12 remaining in the third period before Williams scored a long two on the break.
A massive Williams three kept Lions ahead on the night before Julian Washburn joined the party downtown and the home side went into the final break with a 66-63 lead on the night and a 23-point aggregate advantage.
With the tie effectively over, only Kelley’s two free-throws troubled the scorer in the first three minutes before Neighbour hit another triple, immediately answered from downtown by Jacob.
That launched one last run from the visitors as they scored ten unanswered points capped by another Jacob triple to force a timeout from Vear and the run was ended by a Williams floater to tie the game before Washburn’s triple put the home side ahead 79-76 with 2:33 on the clock.
Jacob and Williams exchanged triples before Robinson sealed the win on the night as Lions ran down the shot clock before their captain hit a dagger three with 13.5 seconds on the clock.