LONDON LIONS walked out in the Copper Box on Sunday night in high spirits – having picked up some new silverware at the O2 last week and then winning in Worcester on Friday night. They left the arena in the even higher spirits that only a 93-78 can bring.
The Lions started the game against the Surrey Scorchers strongly, quickly building a seven point lead largely thanks to impressive work between new star signing Justin Robinson and Momcilo Latinovic. As former Lion Alex Owumi helped the visitors from downtown, Brandon Peel rescued an errant shot to build the lead back up to five and strong work from Joe Ikhinmwin from behind the line saw the lead start climbing again. The Scorchers were not going to be a pushover. They kept fighting but were frustrated by a strong Lions defence. The first quarter ended 27-19.
The Lions were in a determined mood as they came out for the second quarter. The depth and quality of the roster gave the Scorchers headache after headache. When they did find a gap in their opponents’ defence, the Lions came straight back with an emphatic answer. As the clock ticked towards the end of the second quarter, you sensed Surrey were desperately throwing everything at preventing the game being over by half time. The Lions, however, were having fun, and at the half ended with the score on 48-31. Was there any way back for the Scorchers?
Other teams might have settled for a 17 point lead, but one of the impressive things about the Lions is the sheer effort that each member of the team puts in. Play after play, beautiful shot after beautiful shot went in. Equal amounts of hard work on the defensive end led to the lead ballooning to 62-36 with 6.08 left in the third. The quarter ended with the Lions cruising comfortably at 75-48.
It was a lead the Lions could not sustain in the fourth quarter. Frustration with the officiating – particularly on the issue of foulshots – boiled over, culminating in bizarre scenes as the Lions coach was ejected from the game for his second technical foul. Despite a deflating end, nothing could take away from the players who seemed to be really enjoying playing in a team that has serious amounts of promise.
Lions Scorers: Flannigan 19, Robinson 15, Latinovic 13, Peel 11, Lockhart 9, Hall 7, Ikhinmwin 7, Lanegger 5, Isenbarger 5, Guede 2, Roberts, James.
Scorchers Scorers: Ogedengbe 18, Owumi 16, Robinson 13.
•The Lions take on the Manchester Giants on Friday, 6th October, tip at 7.30pm. Tickets available at ticketmaster.co.uk