London Lions head into virgin territory with a trip to Istanbul on Wednesday.

The second phase of the FIBA Europe Cup. A considerable step up in class to expected from the opening round where the BBL outfit emerged with a creditable 5-1 record, averaging 83.5 points per game on 51% shooting.

Now into the Last 16 where they open up against Bahcesehir College – formerly a sister club of the late departed Plymouth Raiders – who went unbeaten in six games while giving up a mere 68.8 points per night.

Around Christmas, the Lions will criss-cross Europe: long haul to Russia to face Saratov and short hop to Denmark to meet Bakken Bears.

It is three decades since Kingston reached the last eight of Europe’s Champions Cup, the forerunner of the EuroLeague.

The Europe Cup might be the continent’s fourth-tier competition but it is no soft touch. Bahcesehir last week picked up Sam Dekker fresh off the NBA waiver wire to supplement its roster.

Yet there has been a lot to like about London’s play this term at home, and abroad where rookie GM Brett Burman moved to add Marquis Teague to a domestic line-up that has been stylish and potent, despite last weekend’s loss in Newcastle.

“The team has shown some amazing team-spirit so far this season, putting in a string of incredibly strong performances to create history,” head coach Vince Macaulay said.

“The team are excited to challenge themselves in the next stage of the Europe Cup and we will go into this game with a huge enthusiasm.

“It is a momentous occasion in the club’s history, and we are very proud to have made it into the second round, and travel to Istanbul to face Bahcesehir College. The team has confidence and believe we can stand up to any opponent we face at the moment. We will not be overwhelmed by the occasion and come into the game ready to perform and play our best basketball.

“The excitement and enthusiasm in the team is palpable. We are ready to face any challenge which comes our way.”


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