London Lions 99 – 65 Leicester Riders (27-11, 46-29, 74-49)
Sunday 1 March; Copper Box Arena
The London Lions dominated against Leicester Riders, taking a huge 34-point victory and snapping the Riders’ six-game winning streak in front of a huge crowd of 2,845 people.
London came out firing on all cylinders with some excellent plays from Buay Tuach who looked to be making his own highlight reel. Ed Lucas also contributed well on both ends of the floor and seems to be settling in nicely with his new team.
The Lions were impenetrable inside the key, blocking most of the Riders attempts around the ring and pushing the ball up the floor initiating some quick offensive setups.
A 10-2 start to the game meant Riders had to go to a time out after 3 minutes, however the pain had only just started for Rob Paternostro’s men. The Lions then went 11-0 before Jesse Chuku stopped the bleeding with a dunk. The BBL’s two time MVP, Justin Robinson, had the game on a string as the Lions took the first quarter 27-11 to the delight of the raucous crowd.
Two minutes into the second quarter, Jules Dang-Akodo had doubled the Riders to make it 30-15. Lucas and Tuach were hitting from outside whilst Brandon Peel showed his class on his way to an awesome 23 points and 13 boards. A brief Riders rally from Nelson-Henry meant the half ended with a 17-point deficit to the visiting team, 46-29, and three Lions in double figures already.
If anyone thought Coach Macaulay’s men would take their collective feet of the pedal, they were mistaken, a masterclass in offensive movement and ferocious defence started the third quarter. Big Ali Tew hit inside, before Lucas and Peel hit triples, Robinson and Jordan Whelan combined and when Peel hit another triple, the lead was over 20 points, at 62-40, limited minutes for Ovie Soko due to foul trouble saw him come off the bench and hit 4 quick points as the home side made it 74-49 going into the final quarter of action.
Needless to say, Tuach opend the quarter with yet another hammer dunk before captain Joe Ikhinmwin blocked Chuku and fired off another Lions offence. The home team lost Soko to his fifth foul, but if anything, stepped up the intensity. Whelan and Andre Lockhart hit, the latter converting a 4-point play after being fouled in the act of shooting. The Riders defence now softened up allowed Sam Toluwase to score 6 points on the inside, with all the team on the scoreboard, as the rampant Lions ran out winners, 99-65.
Along with Peel’s double-double, Lucas added 11 boards to his 19 points a points total matched by Tuach. A serene Robinson added 14 points, 6 assists, 3 steals and no turnovers, in a game where the Lions had 8 blocked shots.
(Report; Duncan Hooper, Pic; Graham Hodges)
Now clear in top spot, the Lions will travel to Surrey on Saturday and won’t return home till April for a quick three-game stand on the 1st, 4th and 8th respectively.