Doubleheader Preview: vs Bristol Flyers & The Caledonia Gladiators

Men’s and women’s home game duel doubleheaders are a rare commodity in European basketball's vast and varied landscape. However, when they come around, it’s another chance to discuss this beautiful game we call basketball and the culture that surrounds it. 

London’s duel home fixtures against Caledonia women’s team and the men’s Bristol Flyers squad on Sunday, February 19th, 2023, will be the Lions’ first regular season WBBL/BBL doubleheader of the season. 

In actuality, the first London Lions (men's and women's) doubleheader occurred on Sunday, 29th January 2023, at the 2023 Cup Finals. That historic day saw the Lions women’s team out-gun Leicester Riders’ women’s team 95-42, and the London men’s team win a tough 79-71 grind-out clash against Leicester’s men’s outfit

So, what can you, the basketball-loving public, expect from the first regular season doubleheader of the season? 

On one side of the ball, one can expect some familiarity as London’s men's team and the Bristol Flyers have already played each other twice during the regular season (with the series tied at 1-1) and once in the BBL Cup. However, on the other side of the ball, the women’s team enters uncharted territory versus the Caledonia Gladiators. 

Paige Robinson, London Lions:

“One thing to recognise with [Caledonia] is that they're hard workers. Although we haven’t played them yet, we know that they are a tough team to beat. They play hard… and they play till the end.”

At times in the world of professional basketball, uncharted territories can come with familiar faces, like that of Caledonia Gladiators forward Chantelle Handy. The 13-year vet, who signed for the Gladiators last summer, is very well known across European basketball and on home shores, having previously suited up for 18-time Euroleague Women champions TTT Riga and earnt a multitude of caps for Team GB. Her game and high IQ is well respected.

Paige Robinson, London Lions:

“Chantel Handy is so respected in British basketball. Someone whom I've had the pleasure and joy to play with. She's gonna step on the court ready to test us. She knows some of our strengths and weaknesses [having played with Holly Winterburn, Azania Stewart, Shanice Beckford-Norton and Shequila Joseph for Team GB]. She's a smart player and has led her team to a lot of great wins this season. It gonna be a hard game.”

The Lions men’s team take on the Flyers in the third encounter of their four-game regular season series. In November, the Southwest England-based club shocked the British basketball landscape when they beat London 75-71. 

However, the Ryan Schmidt-coached side dominated the Flyers in the return game, 95-60. The Londoners advanced to the 2023 BBL Cup Final three days later, beating Bristol 97-79. It's safe to say that both teams know each other pretty well. 

Although Andreas Kapoulas’ side couldn’t stop London from scoring, in their semi-final showdown, they were able to record 19 more points than they did in the previous game.

That said, London took advantage of the Flyers’ lacklustre pick-and-roll defence and their inability to protect the paint and torched them to the tune of 62 points in the paint. Don’t expect the 19th February clash to follow the same patterns as Paige Robinson correctly pointed out “It's hard to beat a team four times in a row.”

We had the pleasure of sitting with stars Paige Robinson and Luke Nelson for a very light-hearted conversation about the doubleheader clash and more.

What are you expecting from the day:

Paige: The whole day will be exciting. It's [technically] the first doubleheader of the season. I’m expecting a diverse crowd. It's not just female, not just male. [Both teams] together, and just a lot of support from both groups. Girls supporting the guys, and the guys supporting the girls.

Which I feel could help us grow in a way. [Both teams will] get to know each other better… and secure the dubs. Haha

Luke: I’m expecting 2 wins for the Lions, of course! Haha

Let’s talk Doubleheader Drip. Have you had a thought about what you’re wearing to the game for the walkthrough:

Paige: Hahaha, I don’t want to talk too much! Haha, so [to be honest] I ordered my outfit for the tunnel pictures yesterday. It’s going to be all grey so I can wear my grey and white [Jordan] 11s.

Luke: No, I haven’t thought about it. I’ll see how I feel on the day!

Who on the men’s and women’s teams are you expecting to have the best outfit on the day?

Paige: I think Mo [Soluade]. I think JT [Jordan Taylor] has nice shoes. But definitely, Mo, out of all of the guys, has the best shoe game. But I don’t think any of them are on my level, haha. Respectfully! Hahaha.

Luke: Azania always goes hard when commenting on our games, so I’ll go with her, haha

Are there any Dope-Drip-level sleepers that will bring something a little different to the tunnel?

Paige: For the tunnel, excluding Azania [Stewart], I think Ty [Battle]. SHE HAS DRIP! She has it! I think Ty and Kiki [Herbert-Harrigan] dress very similarly to me. Chantel’s shoe game is NICE! 

Luke: Keep a very close eye on Tarik Phillip!

Ok! Let’s talk Doubleheader action. Who do you think is an easy double-double vs Bristol Flyers? 

Paige: I think Sam [Dekker] could get a double-double in the first half. Hahaha, That’s a big statement. I think quite a few guys on their team can get a double-double. Ohh, definitely Kosta [Koufos].

Luke: Kiki is getting a double-double… for sure!!

Whom would you say has the nicest handles on the men's and women’s teams?

Paige: Ohh… there are a few. Luke [Nelson]. JT is a given, to be honest. I think Bradley [Kaboza] as well. He really showed that last season. 

Luke: Definitely Shanice [Beckford-Norton]!!

Who would be in your All-Doubleheader Defensive Team selection? Men and women combined.

Paige Robinson's Selections:

Point Guard: Taylor Murray / Mo [Soluade]

Shooting Guard: Shanice Beckford-Norton

Small Forward/Wing: Sam Dekker

Power Forward: Kiki Herbert-Harrigan

Center: Kosta Koufos

Positionally, I’ve got Mo [Soluade] slash Taylor [Murray] in the one spot. For me, it’s really difficult to choose between the two.

Taylor is by far the best defensive point guard [for me]. When Mo plays, he has a particular type of energy, and I think it's coming from his defence.

Then I’ve got Shanice [Beckford-Norton] at the two. Shanice’s defence is top-tier! Then I’ve got Sam [Dekker] at the three, Kiki [Herbert-Harrigan] at the four and Azania [Stewart] at the five.

Luke Nelson's Selections:

Point Guard: Miye Oni

Shooting Guard: Taylor Murray

Small Forward/Wing: Aaron Best

Power Forward: Paulina Hersler

Center: Josh Sharma

Who would be in your All-Doubleheader First Team selection? Men and women combined.

Paige Robinson's Selections:

Point Guard: Miye Oni

Shooting Guard: Holly Winterburn

Small Forward/Wing: Katsiaryna Snytsina

Power Forward: Kiki Herbert-Harrigan

Center: Kosta Koufos

Luke Nelson's Selections:

Point Guard: Holly Winterburn

Shooting Guard: Aaron Best

Small Forward/Wing: Kiki Herbert-Harrigan

Power Forward: Tomislav “Zuba” Zubcic

Center: Josh Sharma

Let's talk about this season thus far. It’s been a historic run thus far for both the men's women’s team. One one side, the women's team qualifying for the FIBAWomen’s EuroCup playoff in back-to-back seasons and on the other the men's team being the first British club to qualify for 7Days EuroCup playoffs. How are both camps coping with the pressure?

Paige: I think this is a great time to mention Jo Ledham. Last season, she was so great at helping us grow, which has helped us to where we are now. So her whole philosophy is that teams are gonna treat us like we're the best team in the world, and they're either gonna play it like they need to tear us down, and they'll do anything to do so. 

So we just have to continue [upholding] a certain standard at practice that displays our hard work when we play. So, I think we cope by treating it like every day. We don't really recognise, “oh, it's the 50th win.” It's exciting. But when we're doing it, we just feel like we just got to secure the win. You know, we just got to treat it like every other game.

Luke: I think we are dealing with it well! We set ourselves big goals and we know it won’t be easy but we know we have what it takes to reach them.


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