London Lions bounce back to slay Giants

PUBLISHED: 10:00 28 March 2017

Alex Owumi looks for a way through for London Lions against Manchester Giants (pic Graham Hodges)

Alex Owumi looks for a way through for London Lions against Manchester Giants (pic Graham Hodges)

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Manchester Giants 88 London Lions 96

London Lions bounced back from Friday’s agonising home loss to Cheshire with a win on the road at Manchester Giants.

In many ways, it was a repeat of Friday night’s performance, with a skilful and productive first half being undone by a sluggish third quarter.

The result however, was markedly different, with the Lions taking the game by a scoreline that flattered the home team, who had their player-coach thrown out of the game after just seven and a half minutes of playing time that saw him rack up five fouls, a bench technical and an ejection and only five points.

Discipline was to be something of a problem for the Giants, with Andre Lockhart needing facial treatment after one particularly violent collision. But the Lions uncharacteristically failed to really capitalise on their frequent trips to the line, missing 12 of their 34 shots.

Rashad Hassan, who teamed up with Zaire Taylor to knock down 43 points, opened the scoring for the Lions.

A three-pointer, followed by two successful free throws from Navid Niktash, saw the Lions build up an early lead and a mid-first quarter wobble, where the Giants got within three, didn’t last long, before Kai Williams and Zak Wells steadied the ship.

The Lions were particularly strong under the basket, with double the number of rebounds in the first quarter.

A lay-up from Joe Ikhinmwin as the buzzer sounded took the Lions lead to ten going into the second quarter.

As they did on Friday night, the Lions really turned it on in the second quarter and looked to be comfortably ahead in double figures when Yorick Williams, player-coach for the Giants, earned a technical foul - his second technical and fifth personal foul - leading to his ejection.

He had to be physically restrained by his fellow team-mates and by the officials, who called a timeout in order to remove him from the court.

What had already been a foul-heavy game got uglier and the officials didn’t cover themselves in glory either way, but by the time the half came to a close the Lions were ahead 52-36.

The third quarter has become quite a problem for Nigel Lloyd’s men since Christmas and it almost seems that a different team comes out after the break – one that struggles both offensively and on defence.

So it was again in Manchester, with the Giants outscoring the Lions 31-18 in the only quarter they won, exploding with nine three-pointers in 10 attempts.

But unlike in previous games, the Lions early lead held, despite the Giants coming within a point of their total.

As the Lions licked their wounds at the end of the third quarter, Manchester were right back in a game London had led by as many as 18.

The Lions immediately started to make amends and, as the fourth quarter got underway, Wells and Taylor teamed up to bring the lead back into double figures.

Manchester weren’t done though, and staged a spirited fight back, but the Lions prevailed with an eight-point victory as Joe Ikhinmwin and Zak Wells gave valuable support from the bench, scoring 22 points compared to two on Friday.

The Lions are back in action at Cheshire on Sunday night, looking to continue to jostle for position in the BBL standings.

Lions scorers; Taylor 22, Hassan 21, Wells 12, Niktash 11, Williams 11, Ikhinmwin 10, Owumi 9, Lockhart 0, Moyo 0.

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