London Lions
Cheshire Phoenix

The Lions overcame a big half-time deficit to reach the BBL Play-offs semi-final despite a 97-95 loss at Cheshire Phoenix, on Sunday evening.

Nikhil Lawry’s led by 16 after Friday’s first leg but the home side produced a blistering first half performance to lead 67-38 on the night before Lions outscored the hosts 57-30 to win 180-166 on aggregate.

Isaiah Reese had another huge night for the Lions, leading the visitors with 24 points – including 17 in the second half. Lorenzo Cugini added 14 points, while Julian Washburn had 13 points and six rebounds.

Namon Wright led Phoenix with 31 points and seven rebounds while Larry Austin missed a triple-double by two boards, finishing with 23 points and ten assists.

The opening four minutes of the second period were little short of a disaster as only Kaboza’s driving lay-up troubled the scorers for Lions as Nix went on a 21-2 run to lead 53-24 on the night and by 13 on aggregate.

Martin eventually ended the run and he also hit a triple as the visitors struggled to stay in touch, and despite late scores from Williams, Kelley and Washburn, Austin’s driving lay-up gave the hosts a 67-38 half-time lead.

Inevitably it was Reese who got London rolling in the second half, hitting a free-throw followed by a triple, and a pair of Cugini treys cut the deficit to 73-53 at the five minute mark in the third period.

Kelley’s alley-oop followed by a Reese triple saw Lions back up by two on aggregate and Jordan Williams’ hook shot saw Nix lead on the night cut to 80-65 at the final break.

Lions were now clearly on top, and Kaboza hit a pair at the line to open the fourth period before Washburn drained a trey and then hit a lay-up to keep the visitors ahead by two points on aggregate.

Reese hit a pair of baskets either side of a Wright triple, and a pair of Washburn jump shots saw Lions lead by five on aggregate with three minutes on the clock. Lawry’s timeout set up a play for Kelley to dunk and Dirk Williams’ lay-up saw the aggregate lead grown to nine with 95 seconds remaining.

A pair of Martin scores at the charity stripe split triples from Wright and Bradley as the tie went into its final minute with Lions leading by five on aggregate.

With Nix forced to foul, Reese went three-from-foul line as London’s aggregate lead grew to eight with 34 seconds on the clock.  Okereafor and Wright both missed shots before Austin was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Dirk Williams. He hit both free-throws before Reese – inevitably -  wrapped up a place in the final four and a two-leg tie against Bristol Flyers.