London City Royals 77-73 London Lions (12-26, 32-38, 56-59)
Crystal Palace National Sports Centre
London City Royals came out with the win over the league leaders, London Lions in a thrilling hotly contested encounter at Crystal Palace.
The hosts move to 14-10 with the teams behind them also picking up victories whilst the Lions still retain a three game lead at the top of the BBL Championship.
The Lions made a hot start to lead by 14 after 10 minutes on the back of excellent three point shooting from Brandon Peel and Justin Robinson and led 12-26.
The Royals hit back with a 12-0 start to the second. The hosts gradually clawed back the deficit with their zone defence which saw Lions scoreless for the first 4 inutes of that quarter, however Joe Ikhinwin broke that run with a triple and the Lions got flowing again, Robinson making a gorgeous assist to Ladarius Tabb under the basket to take a 32-38 lead into the half time break.
The third quarter was intense as both teams competed hard. Bryan-Amaning scored inside for Royals before Lamar Roberts did the same and drew two fouls on the Royals centre. The Lions again weathered the storm and still led by three points, 56-59 going into the final quarter.
Royals forged ahead 68-63 with 5.30 left in the game before Robinson nailed a three pointer to cut the deficit to two, neither team could find the net despite attempts and with 4 minutes left, Robinson took a knock to the knee and had to leave the game.
Out of the subsequent Lions’ time out, Peel tied the game on a drive, a stop by Bristol led to Peel being fouled and this time a Royals time out with 3 mins left. Peel nailed both free throws despite a poor Lions showing from the charity stripe, missing 8 in the game. Baskets exchanged then Tabb put the visitors up 72-73 with 1 minute and 40 seconds left. Then 40 seconds later the same player was fouled, called unsportsmanlike on Will Neighbour. As missed free throws mounted, Tabb missed both and off the subsequent possession, Peel missed his attempt leading to a Washpun score and a fifth foul on Bristol.
47 seconds left and a free throw to come from Washpun, he missed but the Lions could not secure the rebound and off the possession Washpun again went to the Line to put the Royals up with the Lions’ then turning the ball over on the last possession, the game was over, 77-73 to the home side.
Key stat – The Lions went 10 of 18 from the foul line in a 4 point game. overall.
Both sides were without key players and the Royals welcomed back Washpun for his return home with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists along with some huge scores in the final quarter and down the stretch.
The Lions now travel to Surrey Scorchers on Sunday to try and extend their gap at the top of the League.
Lions scorers – Peel 22, Robinson 21, Tabb 14, Ikhinmwin 9, Guede 3, Roberts 2, Okoro 2, Bristol 0, Lockhart 0, Larkai 0, James 0, Ekperuoh.
Royals scorers – Washpun 23, Bryan-Amaning 16, Neighbour 11