Home sweet home for NBL Lions

League and Cup action for young London teams

There’s a pair of home games against Hertfordshire opposition for London Lions II this weekend as they look for victories in both NBL Division and the National Cup, and the women are also at home.

High-flying Hemel Storm are the visitors to Barking Abbey for a league game on Saturday, 4pm, before James Vear’s side host Oaklands Wolves in the National Cup the following day at 2pm.

Lions’ coach James Vear is expecting a tough 24 hours for his team: “It’s a busy weekend for us, but Oaklands are in the same boat with both sides having a double head” he admitted.

“Hemel are one of the better teams in the league with Taylor Johnson and Greg Poleon two of the best players. They’ve got a good squad around them, a great coach in Dru and they’ll be prepared for us.

“Sunday’s a one-off game and we expect Oaklands to be tough. They have some players who caused us problems, and it’s difficult playing back-to-back as we have a huge amount of injuries and niggles. We’re limping into Christmas, but we’ll be doing our best to get through to the quarter-finals.”

Storm, coached by former Lions stalwart Dru Spinks, will arrive in east London sitting fourth in the table with a 5-3 record. Poleon is now in his third season with Storm and in averaging 23.6 points,  8.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.9 steals. His American compatriot Johnson leads the league with 29.3 points along with and 8.1 boards after signing from Division One rivals Thames Valley Cavaliers in the summer having previously played at Leicester Warriors.

A trip to Hemel in the Cup quarter-final awaits the winner of Sunday’s tie as teams built on the cote of two of the country’s top academies meet.

Wolves have had a tough season, sitting second from bottom with their only win in eight Division One outings coming at Loughborough Riders, while they reached the last 16 of the Cup with a narrow 69-65 home victory against London Thunder.

A 25-14 third period proved to be the difference between the teams when they met at Oaklands five weeks ago as Lions ran out 89-80 winners. Brandon Kaboza led the way for Lions with 26 points that day while Mike New jnr – son of former Lion Mike New – led Wolves with a game-high 27 points. New leads Lee Ryan’s team in rebounds (6.9), steals (2) and assists (3.4), adding 14.7 points, while Jonathon James leads them with 19 points per game and adds 2.3 assists.

Lions’ Women II are also at home on Saturday when they host Reading Rockets with a 2pm tip-off.

With both teams having one won once this season, it’s a big game for David Lavinier’s side as they look to move up the Division One table.

Rockets’ only league win came against fellow strugglers Bristol Flyers and they went out of the National Cup at the first stage with a 76-53 loss against local rivals Thames Valley Cavaliers.

Candela Hermida Nunez is the only Rocket averaging double digit scoring with 13.8 points per game, adding a team-high 3.8 assists and 2.8 steals.