London Lions have finally completed their protracted pursuit of Ovie Soko.

The Great Britain forward, as MVP revealed in early-September, had agreed a move to play in the BBL over two months ago as a consequence of deciding to remain in the UK to capitalise on his fame from ITV’s Love Island series.

It is understood that a unique deal – involving financial incentives – had been offered to Soko once he had extracted himself from a contract agreed in Spain where he featured last season for Murcia.

The 28-year-old, who has signed a series of lucrative endorsements in addition to appearing on Sky Sports, will make his debut in the Lions opening league game, against Glasgow Rocks, on December 8 at the Copper Box.

In a statement, he said: “I’m excited to be back home and help contribute to basketball back home where my love for the sport started.

“To be able to play in front of friends and family and supporters in my hometown is huge for me and look forward to pushing the basketball culture in the right direction.”

Last season, Soko averaged 10.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in the ACB and his deal, it has been underlined, commits him to a full schedule of practices and games with the team, other than a single contest during the Christmas period which he will skip to fulfil a pre-planned family commitment in Nigeria.

“It took a while to get everything across the line,” acknowledged Lions coach-owner Vince Macaulay who confirmed his team are presently due to play their remaining games this term at the Copper Box.

“There is an element of sharing the risk and he wanted to be rewarded for being here but to also know what our ambitions would be. So, if we gain, he stands to gain too. That’s the only way it could be done.

“But he also wanted to be here. He’s very committed to making basketball bigger in this country and he will help attract an audience that’s not come to basketball before. We know the existing audience isn’t that big so that could really change things.”

Elsewhere, Newcastle Eagles have signed American centre CJ Gettys.

Photo: Mansoor Ahmed


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