London Lions have play-off title bid shattered as Riders complete another BBL treble
PUBLISHED: 13:00 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:49 24 May 2018
London Lions saw their hopes of landing the BBL play-off Championship title shattered by Leicester Riders at the O2 Arena on Sunday.
The regular league champions were led by MVP Trayvonn Wright as they ran out 81-60 winners to complete a second successive treble, having also won the BBL Trophy.
And Lions coach Vince Macauley admitted it was a disappointing end to the season for his side, who had finished the campaign strongly.
“We are disappointed,” said Macauley.
“We wanted to exhibit ourselves as who we are and the way we have been playing. Credit Riders for making it tough and we knew they would, but we could have played better.”
In a tight opening quarter, the lead swayed back and forth as Cory Dixon and Brandon Peel kept the Lions score moving, but they missed a number of chances at the rim to increase their lead and you felt they were going to need their free flowing offence.
They went into the first break 14-12 up, but in the middle of the second quarter Leicester produced a decisive 10-2 run to seize the game’s momentum.
Peel had an attempted dunk to end the half, but it was blocked by the impressive Wright as Riders outscored London 27-14 to go 39-28 up at half time.
In attempting to get back in the game the Lions could not nail their perimeter shots, with glimpses from Paul Guede and Justin Robinson in patches not enough as Leicester’s Hampton and Bernardini were able to pile on the pressure as the lead grew.
The victory marked the Riders’ fourth BBL play-off final win, but the Lions will feel frustrated not to have taken advantage early on.
They can back at a season that seemed derailed in December but sparked into life for the best in the club’s history, but when asked if Flo Larkai’s ejection affected the game, Macaulay added: “No it didn’t, but I think the referees would want to take that decision back as it was a horrible one against a model professional.”
Wright took MVP honours for his 11 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks off the bench, while Peel led all scorers with 22 points and an impressive 13 rebounds.
Lions scorers: Peel 22, Guede 10, Dixon 7, Thompson 6, Robinson 4, Ikhinmwin 3, Lockhart 2, Ekperuoh 2, James 2, Roberts 2, Okoro 0, Larkai 0.