London Lions on the hunt for British Basketball League glory

The London Lions moved one step closer to British Basketball League glory on Wednesday night with a formidable 95-60 victory in their quarter-final playoff game.

The Lions dominated the second-leg tie against the Cheshire Phoenix from the tip-off, amassing a seven-point lead within 90 seconds and hitting 13 three-pointers in the first half alone.

Lions forward and NBA veteran DeAndre Liggins was unquestionably the game’s standout player, putting up 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists in just over 20 minutes on the court.

Dirk Williams led the Lions scoring with 17 points, four rebounds and three assists, whilst Lions guard and two-time league MVP Justin Robinson utilised his experience in the post-season to post 13 points and nine assists.

The win means the Lions are now riding a 14-match unbeaten streak in what has been an exceptional 2021 campaign after a turbulent year in 2020.

The arrival of several new players into the squad amidst the widespread disruption caused by the pandemic resulted in some inconsistent performances last year, but the Lions are now undoubtedly in fine form as they head into the playoff semi-finals. 

Head coach of the Lions Vince Macauley said: “2020 was one of the toughest years both personally and professionally for just about every team member, so to be playing in the playoffs and winning games in such a dominant fashion means so much to us.

“Every player and member of staff has worked so hard to get us into the position we’re in today, and performances like that just go to show what we can achieve when we all work together. But now it’s time to recover and make sure we’re fully focused on the semi-finals.”

Lions captain Joe Ikhinmwin added: “The recent success we’ve enjoyed is undoubtedly rooted in our hard work and preparation on and off the court.

“Our performance tonight was one of our best and we are now on 14 game winning streak, but we will be facing some of the toughest competition in the league next week so we need to bring our best if we want to compete in the final.”

The Lions’ impressive progress this year in the BBL has been equalled by their off-court success as of late.

The team partnered with Selfridges to launch Will Smith’s apparel line Bel Air Athletics in the UK last month, just weeks following their participation in the release party of grime artist AJ Tracey’s second album, Flu Game.

The Lions will play Plymouth Raiders in the semi-finals, after they saw off the Worcester Wolves 96-81 in their second-leg last night after a tight 84-82 first-leg.

The Raiders will be tough competitors as they finished third in the regular season table, one place and two wins behind the Lions.

The first and second legs of the semi-final tie will be played on 11 and 13 May in Leicester.

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