London Lions tasted success in both the BBL Cup and Championship as the third weekend of the new season produced some thrilling finishes.
Vince Macaulay’s side went into the weekend still searching for their first win of the campaign with a 95-91 victory over the Surrey Heat on Friday before progressing to Cup quarter-finals with a dramatic 79-76 win against Durham Wildcats at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
“We are delighted to get off the mark, we know this is a work in progress, we haven’t had a pre-season so this is it for us, but being with key injured players made us come together,” said Macaulay.
“My forwards were terrific and led us from the front, Tayo [Ogedengbe], Duane [James] and the mercurial Orlan [Jackman], having said all of that, Mike Martin was not going to let us lose to Surrey. The fans were terrific, it was good to see former fans of London teams come up and cheer us on, I’m excited I think London going to be great.
An impressive 27 point haul from Ogedengbe against Heat was the stand-out performance for the home side, while Chavis Holmes bagged 24 points for the visitors in the defeat. Against Wildcats, Macaulay’s team were almost sent to overtime by the valiant visitors who had trailed by ten points with just 70 seconds remaining but just failed to convert a three-point shot to tie in the last seconds when Paul Elderkin couldn’t get it to drop.
Champions Newcastle Eagles continued their perfect start to the season with a pair of road wins. The Eagles were made to work hard by the Manchester Giants on Friday but came away from Wright Robinson College with a 91-82 victory as Joe Chapman and Charles Smith each scored 20 points for the visitors who did most of the hard work in the second quarter.
Sunday saw Newcastle Eagles produced a fine fourth quarter against old foes Glasgow Rocks to spoil the party at the Emirates Arena which was witnessing BBL basketball for the first time. The Eagles silenced the big home crowd with a sensational display to ride out 106-84 winners and disappoint the Rocks who had Great Britain forward Kieron Achara in their line-up as Charles Smith again haunted his former team with 31 points.
Plymouth Raiders also kept up their unbeaten start to the campaign as they swept aside Manchester Giants 105-74 with another powerful performance, this time headlined by Colin O’Reilly. The Irish forward produced a terrific display with 28 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals to keep his team unbeaten.
There was drama at Surrey Sports Park as the home-town Heat bounced back from their Friday night loss in London with a nail-biting 71-69 victory over Worcester Wolves as Chavis Holmes scored in the last second to send the home fans into raptures. Holmes grabbed 19 points, seven rebounds and four steals while Sam Cricelli had a fine double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds
Finally, Cheshire Jets chalked up their first success of the new season with an 88-64 derby victory against Mersey Tigers. Gabriele Haskins posted an efficient 17 points for Jets whilst Gael Hulson was the only player to reach double figures for the losing team with an impressive 19 points on his debut.
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