London Lions 100-69 Newcastle Eagles (32-19, 24-23, 26-13, 18-14)
(Lions – Hruban 19, Nelson 17, Ward-Hibbert/Soluade 13; Eagles – Defoe 22, Johnson 15, Kennedy/Gordon 10)
In tonight’s BBL action, league leaders London Lions welcomed playoff hopefuls Newcastle Eagles to the Copper Box, coming out on top 100-69.
Vojtech Hruban led the Lions with 19 points, followed by Luke Nelson with 17.
Darius Defoe’s valiant effort with 22 points was not enough for the Eagles to secure the win.
The game started with London rushing to a 7-0 lead within the first two minutes, after Josh Ward-Hibbert drained the contest’s first three.
A couple of minutes later Miye Oni threw a beautiful pass to Josh Sharma for the alley-oop slam (13-6) – in one of the highlights of the match.
On the very next play, Ward-Hibbert drove to the basket and dished it to his big man for the two-handed dunk (15-6).
David Cohn made sure that Newcastle stayed within touching distance when he hit a long-range triple to make it a two-possession game (15-9).
He then grabbed the defensive board and threw a full-court pass to Justin Gordon for the wide open dunk (15-11), forcing coach Schmidt into a timeout.
The two sides then proceeded to exchange baskets, before Nelson stepped into the pass from Hruban and connected from downtown, giving the hosts their first double-digit lead of the game (31-19), just before the end of the first quarter.
With the start of the second period the Lions extended their lead to 15 (34-19) when Hruban hit a mid-range jumper, and then to 17 when Nelson connected from behind the arc once more (39-22).
London’s advantage reached its peak for the first half when Jonathan Komagum made both his free throws, completing a 7-0 run (41-22).
Halfway through the quarter, coach Steutel instructed his team to switch to a 3-2 zone following a timeout, which helped limit their opponent’s scoring.
This enabled the Eagles to go on a 6-0 run and closed the gap to 10 (46-36), when Kyle Johnson grabbed the offensive rebound and laid the ball in.
As the first half was drawing to a close, the Lions started to break down the Newcastle zone and found some easy buckets.
Oni threw a bullet pass through the eye of the needle to a cutting Ward-Hibbert along the baseline, who finished for the easy two (51-36).
Oni then extended his team’s lead further with his first triple (56-39), with 30 seconds left before halftime.
For the final play of the half, Cohn stopped his dribble a long way from the three-point line and seeing as no one stepped up to defend him, pulled up with a Hail Mary shot that hit nothing but net and gave the Eagles some much needed momentum heading to the locker rooms down 14 (56-42).
A couple of layups by Jordan Taylor and Tomislav Zubcic to start the second half increased London’s lead (60-42).
The Lions continued to move the ball well on offence and made it look easy when Zubcic found Oni with the bounce pass for the layup (65-48).
Defoe continued to do all he could to keep his team in the game, this time showing his post moves and finishing with a hook shot to reduce the difference to 15 (65-50) – bringing his total up to 20.
As the quarter progressed however, the hosts started to take complete control of the game and brought their lead to its highest margin of 22 (72-50), when Hruban drained the three.
The Czech star then increased it to 25 (76-51) with a layup, before Nelson’s layup brought it to 26 (78-52).
The Team GB guard then finished off the third quarter with another easy layup (82-55), after Mo Soluade found him wide open following a full-court pass.
Entering the final 10 minutes the result had already been decided with the difference at 27 points, but Newcastle continued to fight.
Unfortunately for the visitors, London’s offence was just too much and they continued to increase the lead, with Soluade connecting from downtown to make it a 30-point game for the first time (89-59) and forcing a Newcastle timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Lions decided to run a full-court press – something which they executed perfectly, leading to an eight-second violation by the Eagles.
Hruban then increased the gap further to 33 (92-59), when he banked in a triple from the inbound play, with less than a second left on the shot clock.
Newcastle continued to hustle and that allowed Jermel Kennedy to make the steal and dish it off to Gordon for the monster one-handed slam (92-61).
Sharma replied just a minute later with his own dunk, bringing the lead up to 35 (96-61), which constituted the largest of the game.
With this win the Lions move to a record of 26-3 and edge one step closer to being crowned champions, while the Eagles fall to 7-21 and still remain three wins behind the playoff spots.
To make sure you stay up to date with your favourite team and not miss any of the action, click HERE.