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London Lions lose as Cheshire Phoenix rise

PUBLISHED: 07:25 04 April 2017 | UPDATED: 07:25 04 April 2017

London Lions coach Nigel Lloyd talks to his players (pic Graham Hodges)

London Lions coach Nigel Lloyd talks to his players (pic Graham Hodges)

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Cheshire Phoenix 111 London Lions 94

Kai Williams on the attack for London Lions against Cheshire (pic Graham Hodges)Kai Williams on the attack for London Lions against Cheshire (pic Graham Hodges)

Three might be a magic number, but it isn’t proving so for the London Lions who yet again let a poor third quarter cost them a game they really should have won. The Lions are also struggling to defend against three-point shots, allowing teams to rack up quick scores, and this time it was Cheshire’s Mike DiNunno who took advantage of weak defence from behind the arc, with 40 points, eight of which were from downtown and more were from being fouled while attempting the three-point shot.

Nigel Lloyd’s men will be ruing a 17-point loss in a game that comes ahead of a difficult path to stay in the play-offs that sees Newcastle and Leicester visiting the Copper Box before the end of the regular season.

London had their offensive struggles too, turning the ball over 22 times, compared with Cheshire’s 12.

The game followed a worryingly familiar pattern, with a busy first quarter seeing the lead go back and forth between the two sides, before the Lions nudged ahead by one as the period ended.

London Lions' Zak Wells competes for the ball against Cheshire (pic Graham Hodges)London Lions' Zak Wells competes for the ball against Cheshire (pic Graham Hodges)

But the Lions couldn’t seem to keep their lead and it continued to switch back and forth before Cheshire took a 43-42 lead with 52.3 seconds left in the half. The Lions called a timeout, but failed to execute a play and went into the break down by five.

Although the game was tight, Cheshire were putting strong pressure on the Lions and by half time, Cheshire had scored 23 points from Lions turnovers and that would be 30 by the end of the game.

Things were about to go from bad to worse for the Lions, as DiNunno got hot going into the third quarter.

Lions on the other hand started the quarter as cold as ice and it took three minutes before Rashad Hassan got an offensive rebound and tipped in for their first points of the half.

Zaire Taylor attacks the basket for London Lions at Cheshire (pic Graham Hodges)Zaire Taylor attacks the basket for London Lions at Cheshire (pic Graham Hodges)

By contrast, Cheshire had put away 12 points in the same time and DiNunno put away five of his eight-three points in a third quarter that the Lions lost 38-27.

This seemed to spur the Lions on, but any recovery would prove to be shortlived as the Cheshire lead wouldn’t dip below double figures again.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, it was a question of how many Cheshire would win by, rather than if they would win.

A deflated Lions team struggled on both ends of the court before the final buzzer and will look to bounce back when Newcastle visit the Copper Box tonight (Wednesday, 7.30pm).

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