Trio of games for Division One sides

It’s another busy weekend for London Lions NBL Division One teams as they face a total of three games.

James Vear’s men’s side will look to bounce back after a disappointing weekend that saw them lose twice when they host Nottingham Hoods at Barking Abbey on Saturday, 4pm.

After finishing bottom of the Division One table last season, and escaping relegation as the lower tiers didn’t operate, Hoods made some big summer signings the league’s tallest player in their ranks; at 7’0”, Morakinyo Williams who is averaging 14.6 points and collecting a team high ten rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game. New American duo Andrew Vickers and Logan Bailey are also making an impact, averaging13.8 and 11.8 points per game respectively with the former also pulling down seven rebounds and the latter dishing off four assists per game. They also added former Derby players Josh Guddemi and Johde Campbell as well as assist-machine Kyle Jimenez who has dished out 8.2 per game.

Vear is looking for an improved performance after last week’s defeats against Loughborough and Worthing: “We were very poor against Loughborough, it was our worst performance of the season, we looked tired and had no energy” he said. “To be fair to the guys, I challenged them to do better at Worthing and they did, even though we still didn’t play well. We had a chance to win it in the fourth period and we stopped their main guys, but a couple of their fringe players hit big shots.”

The Lions’ coach expects a difficult game against the Hoods: “They’re one of the most improved sides in the league” he said. “They’ve spent a lot of money and are a very talented side. I think they have six players in double figures and no one’s playing more than 25 minutes per game, so they’re balanced across the board. It’ll be a tough game but we’ve had a good week of practice and although we’re carry a few injuries and Zamoku [Weluche] is out with a broken index finger, I believe we can play a lot better than last week.”

Hoods made an excellent start to the season by winning their three L Lynch Trophy games and their first four league games before hitting a sticky patch which has seen them go out of the Trophy to arch rivals Derby Trailblazers and lose at Team Newcastle last weekend to drop to fifth in the table. Meanwhile Lions are now seventh in Division One with a 4-3 record.

Meanwhile Lions women II start a big weekend with a key trip to Bristol Academy Flyers at 5pm on Saturday. The West Country side are level with David Lavinier’s side in tenth position with both sides having one win from six league games.

Flyers are led by Emma Bailey’s 10.4 points and 2.4 assists per game, adding 3.8 rebounds, while Leila Jepson pulls down a team-high 4.4 boards to go with 8.8 points.  

Lavinier’s team are also in action on Sunday when they fact a tough National Cup trip to Anglia Ruskin University with a place in the last eight at stake.

The Cambridge-based side didn’t compete due to Covid-19 last season but finished runners-up in 2019/20 and were denied a shot at becoming champions when their title decider against Ipswich was cancelled as the season came to a premature halt. They have opened the campaign with two wins and as many losses, and went close to beating early leaders CoLA Southwark Pride in their opening game.

Anglia have a balanced offence with Naria Zaffaroni, Katrin Hulme and Courtney Gray all averaging 14 points per game and the trio also lead their rebounding with Hulme pulling down an impressive 15.3 boards per game, Gray adds 9.7 and Zaffaroni seven.

A home tie against Cardiff Archers II awaits the winner in the last eight.

In Division Three UEL Lions will look to continue their good start to the season with a home game against London Thunder, while Barking Abbey Lions have the weekend off.