BBL: London Lions 86 Cheshire Phoenix 81
PUBLISHED: 16:19 13 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:19 13 January 2018
Double-doubles for Justin Robinson (21 points, 10 assists) and Brandon Peel (16 points, 11 rebounds) saw the London Lions to victory at the Copper Box on Friday.
The Lions, who built up a solid 17-point lead, saw it slip from their fingers as Cheshire went on a 14 unanswered point run to put them right back in the game.
London refused to be beaten, though, and put on a gritty display for the final five minutes that saw them deservedly take the game and a much needed win in the BBL Championship.
Any thoughts that the Lions might have been unsettled by the announcement earlier in the day that Jack Isenbarger would be leaving the club to go to Australia were quickly seen off in the first quarter.
Despite London winning the tip, it was Cheshire who got the first points on the board. And it would be the last lead they’d have until almost half way through the third quarter.
It wasn’t for want of trying though. Cheshire were battling at both ends of the court, but the Lions kept back on them, playing harder to keep albeit a small cushion.
As Cory Dixon slammed the ball into the net with the seconds ticking down in the first, the home side were ahead by seven.
Then Peel was harshly judged to have fouled on a three-point play, and Alassan Touray made two to bring the Lions lead down to 24-19.
The second quarter started much the same, as the Lions extended the lead into double digits as Robinson nailed a shot from long range with five minutes to go in the half.
But as the quarter wore on, Cheshire kept pushing and the Lions went cold, committing careless turnovers to bring the game to within two.
With just seconds left, an awful pass gave the Phoenix the ball, but they couldn’t do anything with it and the Lions went into the break with the lead still intact.
The third quarter was almost a mirror as the two teams battled to keep a lead. But as the quarter wore on it was the Lions who were getting the stronger looks, turning a one-point Cheshire lead into a 58-51 lead with two and a half minutes on the clock.
A Cheshire timeout didn’t help as the Lions kept the pressure up to give them a 64-51 lead going into the final quarter.
Halfway through the fourth and it was a one-point game, before Cheshire fouled Andre Lockhart from behind the arc and sent him to the line where he made all three shots.
The battling continued with both sides sensing they could take the win until Dixon made a crucial layup with 11 seconds to go to give the Lions a five-point lead and put the game beyond Cheshire’s reach.
The Lions are next in action in Loughborough on Friday before a Sunday trip to Leeds.