BBL Cup: London Lions 67 Cheshire Phoenix 83 (154-157 on agg)
PUBLISHED: 07:58 12 December 2017 | UPDATED: 07:58 12 December 2017
London Lions completed a miserable weekend as Cheshire completed a 13-point comeback win at the Copper Box Arena to qualify for the 2018 BBL Cup Final.
Ben Thomas’ side had battled artic conditions to get to London with the game delayed by 15 minutes, but they surged ahead on the back of Orlan Jackman and Robert Sandoval’s early efforts to lead 26-15 after the first quarter.
With Momcilo Latinovic clearly hurt the Lions seemed out of synch, but Justin Robinson responded in the second quarter as the home side rallied.
And it looked like they were getting back into the tie but a rushed shot at the end led to a Malcolm Riley basket for Cheshire at the buzzer as they led 49-32 on the night and by four points on aggregate.
The second half slowly climbed back in favour of the Lions but they could not edge ahead or tie and with the last three minutes to play it was a one possession game.
Paul Guede came down court with the Lions two points behind on aggregate and 40 seconds on the clock and shot a very deep three-point attempt which came off the ring.
The Lions needed a defensive stand and a chance to go back up the other end, but Mo Lanegger fouled Riley who nailed one free throw and inexplicably Cheshire came up with the offensive rebound, effectively sealing the game and making their first Cup final since 2010.
The Lions, defending a 13-point lead from the first leg in the north west, never led in the return meeting and Cheshire were able to take control throughout.
Jackman found his rhythm early on his way to a game-high 23 points for Phoenix to set another date in Birmingham having won the competition with Newcastle last season.
Lions scorers: Robinson 20, Ikhinmwin 13, Peel 12, Hall 9, Guede 8, Flannigan 3, Isenbarger 2, Latinovic 0, Roberts 0, Lockhart 0, Lanegger 0, James.