BBL: Sheffield 80 London Lions 81
PUBLISHED: 14:55 08 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:55 08 April 2018
London Lions kept their BBL winning streak alive in the most dramatic way possible, with a one-point, last-gasp victory against the Sheffield Sharks on Saturday night.
Down by two points with just 32 seconds left the match, their latest victory sees the Lions sit third in the BBL – just two points behind Newcastle and secures participation in the play-offs for another season.
It was Justin Robinson who would once again be the hero for the visitors, with a clutch three-point shot that gave the Lions the lead with just 24 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Lions then immediately went hard on defence, forcing the Sharks into a misjudged shot on the buzzer which never looked like going in.
All five starters for the Lions made it into double figures, with Brandon Peel leading the scoring with yet another double double (18 points, 10 rebounds), while Robinson (16 points, eight assists) and Cory Dixon (16 points, seven rebounds) followed closely behind.
The Lions came out of the gates looking strong and confident, with Dixon and Peel scoring four early points each to give them an 8-6 lead.
Jon Thompson got in on the act, making it 13-8 with 5.50 left in the first quarter. But even though the points kept being added on, Sheffield were proving strong on defence, pushing the Lions into poor shots and turnovers that would prove costly.
With 3.20 left in the first quarter, the Sharks grabbed the lead, but Thompson bought it back to a tie for the Lions, before former Lion Zach Gachette scored five quick points to give the hosts a cushion.
No matter what the Lions tried, the Sharks kept coming back, and the five-point cushion would be safe going into the second period (27-22).
Robinson and Peel would start the second quarter determined to get that lead down, and with just over 30 seconds gone, it was tied again.
But the Sharks were looking for revenge after a double-digit loss to Newcastle the previous night. And they simply punished the Lions for bad passes and poor shots.
With 7.16 left in the half, the Lions were down by seven, but they made a great effort to bring that down, yet couldn’t put together strong periods of consistent play.
The lead would become 11 with just over four minutes to go in the half, before Robinson and Dixon got to work with the scoring, thanks to defensive rebounds from Peel.
A rare bad pass from Thompson gave the Sharks the opportunity to make it a nine-point lead on the buzzer (48-39).
It was to be a different story in the second half, with the Lions winning the third quarter (22-15) and the fourth quarter (20-17) on the way to victory.
It looked anything but a clear path to victory as the third quarter opened however, with the Sheffield lead getting up to 13 with 8.18 minutes left and 14 just a minute later.
Dixon and Peel bought it down to 10 points with half the quarter gone, before Paul Guede netted back-to-back shots from downtown to shrink the lead to six with 2.49 left in quarter three.
Less than a minute later, and the lead was only four thanks again to Guede, this time a lay-up matching a similar effort from Robinson.
With 44 seconds left, Robinson brought the Lions within two, before Guede missed an opportunity to make it a tie as the seconds counted down.
Dzaflo Larkai put up four quick points to give the Lions an early two-point lead as the fourth quarter got underway and the lead would swap back and fourth throughout most of the quarter until Thompson stepped up and sunk a shot from behind the arc to give the Lions a four-point lead.
With 80 seconds in the game, Dixon fouled, sending the Sharks to the line to tie the game.
Robinson then did the same thing, and Sheffield made both, putting them two points up with 32 seconds on the clock.
Then it was Robinson’s chance to give the Lions a valuable lead with the winning shot – which he made in style.
It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was an absolutely thrilling game of basketball.
Up next for the Lions is a trip away to Leeds on Friday night, before returning to the Copper Box to take on Worcester Wolves on Sunday April 15 (4pm).