London Lions 568London Lions’ wait for their American imports is over and head-coach Vince Macaulay insists his trio are ‘raring to go’ ahead of Friday’s cup encounter with Sheffield.

Nick Freer, Ben Smith and Kramer Knutson have been made to wait for their BBL vows and have now been given the go-ahead to make their debuts this week.

Macaulay said: “We’ve been in constant communication with the Americans and they can’t wait to get going. Nick Freer has been practicing with us for the past month and is already fitting into our system.”

The experienced play-caller believes his three new signings will have a great impact and bring different qualities to the squad.

“Our team chemistry is already fantastic and these will be good additions to the squad. Nick (Freer) is an athletic player that will benefit us offensively. Kramer Knutson will provide an inside presence and be able to dominate in the paint while Ben Smith is coming here with a lot of pedigree.”

In the void left by their delayed arrival, the Lions were able to snap up Matthew Bryan-Amaning, albeit on a short-term deal, and the GB international is now heading to France after signing a contract with Pro-A side Sharks Antibes.

Bryan-Amaning averaged 20.3 points per game in his 3 appearances for the Lions and played a big part in their double-winning weekend to the delight of Macaulay.

“MBA was great with 18 & 10 v Plymouth and then he was terrific in the fourth (quarter) on Sunday, his 28 points were important for us.

He added: “He’s a hell of a player. It’s been fantastic for the league to have a top-level player and a big boost to the club.”

The Lions defeated Plymouth for the second time this season on Friday with a 100-92 success before having to dig deep to see off the challenge of Glasgow, winning 80-77. Both victories came at the Copper Box Arena and Macaulay feels that the venue is ‘beginning to feel like home’.

“It’s great being able to play here and it’s what we’re all about with the Olympic legacy. We want to help the development of young English players and they get to use the fantastic facilities at the Copper Box.”

The capital club currently sit in fifth place in the league with a 4-2 record that they have earned with an all-British squad, something which Macaulay takes pride in.

“The Lions have always been about giving opportunities to English players. They’ll play minutes and learn. My assistant coaches are fantastic and we now have great facilities. The more clubs that give these opportunities, the better it is for British basketball and more English players will want to play here.

“We have veterans like Perry Lawson and Mike Martin; younger players like Joe Ikhinmwin and then there’s been MBA- who can play at a higher level but has been happy to play here and that’s our philosophy.”

Despite his side’s positive start, Macaulay is refusing to get carried away. One particular blemish was an agonising overtime loss they suffered against Worcester on BBL TV earlier in the season.

“We’re not going to count our chickens just yet,” he says.

“We could be 6-0 had a few things gone our way. We will just continue to try and win every game.”

The Stratford based side begin their cup campaign on Friday when they take on the Sharks. Fans can look forward to seeing their new signings in action for the first time, and will hope their American arrivals can ignite a cup run for the Lions. The club’s last piece of silverware came in 2008 and you have to go back a year earlier for their last win in Sheffield.

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