London Lions 88-75 Surrey Scorchers (25-24, 18-21, 21-20, 24,10)
(Lions – Hruban 17, Zubcic 15, Nelson/Ward-Hibbert 14; Scorchers – Mcfolley 13, Wang/Jacdonmi 11, Steel/Martin 10)
Leicester Riders 106 – 89 Bristol Flyers (29-17, 27-22, 29-26, 21-24)
(Riders – Jackson 28, Whelan 18, Mackenzie 17; Flyers – King 25, Watson-Gayle 15, Bell III 11)
Manchester Giants 109 – 69 Plymouth Patriots (25-18, 35-23, 34-21, 15-7)
(Giants – Fletcher 25, Roberson 22, Green 19; Patriots – Hassan 17, Dang-Akodo 12, Bissainthe 11)
Newcastle Eagles 72-91 Cheshire Phoenix (24-22, 15-19, 21-17, 12-33)
(Eagles – Johnson 17, Defoe 16, Gordon 15; Phoenix – Evans 27, Ulph 14, Austin/Archibald 13)
The London Lions continued a victorious year and secured a domestic double with an 88-75 win over the Surrey Scorchers at the CopperBox Arena on Friday night.
The Lions can now add the Championship title to the trophy cabinet, alongside the BBL Cup, which they secured in January.
Hoping for results to go their way elsewhere, London came into the game with a job to do and could only control what happened on home court.
They were made to work for it but come the final buzzer, became 2022-2023 BBL Champions.
Fresh from ending their EuroCup group phase in style with a win over Paris two day prior, the Lions had to adjust to some significant roster adjustments.
Head Coach Ryan Schmidt was missing key players Sam Dekker and Josh Sharma, putting their loaded roster to the test.
The bottom-placed Scorchers were out to spoil the party
early, as they made it clear they weren’t going to roll out the red carpet.
Both teams traded blows throughout the first quarter and it
became abundantly clear that the Lions had a game on their hands, leading the
first quarter by just one.
An uncharacteristically poor shooting performance from
London meant that Surrey took a two point lead into half time.
Half way through the third quarter however, the Lions
showcased their championship pedigree, with big plays from Jordan Taylor and
Tomislav Zubcic snatching the momentum from Surrey.
The lead opened up in the fourth with big threes from the likes of Josh Ward-Hibbert, who punctuated London’s squad depth.
At that point, the Scorchers ran out of gas and couldn’t get
back into the game, despite tremendous effort from Padiet Wang, who had an
impressive all-around game.
Vojtech Hruban shone for the Lions, coming through for his team when it mattered and leading with 17 points, at a clip of seven from 13.
Luke Nelson stepped up from the bench also, facilitating effectively
and recording six assists to go with his 14 points.
Most notably, with the win Nelson becomes one-half of the first father and son league-winning duo, joining his father Steve in the BBL promised land.
The outcome may have been harsh on league stalwart Tayo Ogedengbe, who reached 17th on the all-time BBL scoring list.
The night was all about the team in black however and London made history; no team has ever won the Championship with six games left to play and now the Lions have one eye on the playoffs.
Elsewhere, it was a bittersweet night for the Leicester Riders, who cruised to a comfortable 106-89 victory at the Morningside Arena over the Bristol Flyers.
The bad news for Leicester was that their victory aided the
Lions on their way to securing the title.
The good news? The Riders’ win pushes them closer to Bristol
in the standings, as they make a run for second place with games in hand.
Leicester made an aggressive start to establish a lead, but
impressively managed to control the game throughout against a solid Flyers
Zach Jackson led the way for Rob Paternostro’s team, scoring 28 points and making nine of his 12 attempts from the field.
It was a true team effort otherwise, with Kimbal Mackenzie, Patrick Whelan and Marc Loving all reaching double digits.
Meanwhile Manchester Giants overwhelmed the Plymouth City Patriots, rampaging their way to a 109-69 victory.
The Giants put together a relentless display of offensive
basketball throughout, protecting the lead from the first minute.
Tajh Green powered his way to an incredible triple double, recording 19 points 17 rebounds and ten assists.
Eighth place Plymouth’s losing streak extends to six and the
Giants now sit firmly in fourth.
Manchester remain a legitimate threat to potential playoff rivals , as they currently reign as the team’s highest scoring team.
Cheshire Phoenix bounced back from their heart-breaking BBL Trophy Final loss with a convincing dub over the Newcastle Eagles.
With the game tied after the first half, the Phoenix totally
transformed for the second, even putting together a 33-point fourth quarter to close
Marcus Evans starred for Cheshire, leading the team with 27
points and dishing out eight assists.
The win means Cheshire leapfrog the Sheffield Sharks in the
standings, while the Eagles remain in ninth.