Paris Basketball 85-96 London Lions (19-29, 30-20, 17-25, 19-22)
Paris – Wallace 22, Begarin 18, Simms 14; London – Zubcic 24, Nelson 17, Hruban 14
Leicester Riders 92-89 Plymouth City Patriots (30-22, 20-21, 19-19, 23-27)
Riders – Loving 24, Mackenzie 23, Jackson 18; Patriots – Hassan 21, Iykekpolor 14, Bissainthe 11
The London Lions closed out the 7Days EuroCup regular season with a win on the road, beating Paris Basketball 96-85 to finish the season 8-10.
Tomislav Zubcic kept the visitors scoring all night and finished with 24, which was too much for Paris, despite 22 from Tyrone Wallace.
The final game of the 7Days EuroCup regular season saw a presentation of two teams hoping for EuroLeague growth in the coming years, as the BBL’s London Lions travelled to France for a win over Paris Basketball.
Both teams had playoff spots secured, so this was a chance to rest key players and embed systems.
A beautiful pass from Tomislav Zubcic to cutting Miye Oni showed how well practiced the Lions were to open the scoring.
While Aamir Sims got Paris going with a three-point play, London’s Jordan Taylor decided he would make the quarter his own without Sam Dekker and Kosta Koufos in the line-up for the Lions.
He hit a Chris Paul-esque hesitation pull-up in the lane, then a few possessions later caught a pass in mid air at the end of the shotclock, but hit a three as the buzzer went.
With or without the stars, London has remained a good defensive team and they edged ahead as the end of the quarter drew near.
Luke Nelson and Vojtech Hruban kept the Lions scoring but it was a team effort on the other end, punctuated by a Josh Sharma block.
A last second, well-contested fadeaway for Paris’ Tyrone Wallace showed great athleticism and poise, which kept the home team within 10 after 10.
The second quarter started slower than the first ended for the visitors, but the defence kept the home team chasing the game.
A mini five-point run from Axel Toupane and Juhann Begarin was interrupted by a Zubcic three.
Oni was found again on another good cut that mimicked the opening play of the game. He rose up and attempted to crush the dunk but was fouled and the ball rattled off the back rim – regardless, this energised London.
Zubcic and Hruban hit a couple of threes to push the lead up to 13, but Paris responded with their own five-point run, which prompted a timeout by London coach Ryan Schmidt.
Paris smelled blood. A 7-2 run out of the timeout, headlined by a big three from Wallace at the top of arc caught nothing but net with 36 seconds.
Taylor turned the ball over, which gave Paris one more possession, and after a timeout, they found Begarin on the wing who did what his coach asked: “Attack the rim hard.”
He got the dink and the foul, which finished off a 15-2 run to tie up the game going into the locker room.
A good defensive stance by the Lions to open the second half closed off multiple options for Paris as they forced a shot with the clock expiring.
Both teams played each other to an alley-oop dunk stalemate, but Lions came away with the advantage when Zubcic hit a three off a Taylor drive.
Taylor showed his veteran focus by fighting down to a mismatch in the low post. He spun and rose, while his legs were taken out and got the tough floater to drop.
But the teams continued to exchange big buckets and neither could break away thanks to defence on both sides forcing airballs and late shotclock prayers. The Lions retained a eight-point lead going into the fourth.
Begarin continued his onslaught on the rim to start the final frame, and got a layup to go, plus a foul, for Paris.
But London put the clamps on defence and got loose on offence, with Zubcic and Hruban scoring, before Nelson hit two huge threes.
Paris fought back and Amar Gegic hit his first three to trail by just four.
Sharma made his final contribution by breaking a full court press with a two-handed jam, which gave his team a six-point lead, but he fouled out shortly after.
Zubcic and Aaron Best made it a seven-point run, which created enough of a gap to break Paris and give the London Lions a 96-85 win.
The 7Days EuroCup playoffs begin on 12 April but the Lions are back in BBL action against the Surrey Scorchers on Friday.
Leicester Riders have struggled slightly in their last five BBL Championship games, uncharacteristically dropping three of five, but they got back into rhythm with a 92-89 win over the Plymouth City Patriots at Morningside Arena.
The home team needed big games from Marc Loving and Kimbal Mackenzie – with 24 and 23 points, respectively – to see off a valiant effort from Rashad Hassan and Otas Iyekekpolor.
The Plymouth City Patriots hoped to capitalise on Leicester’s rough patch and they started out well.
Jules Dang Akodo scored five points straight for Plymouth, and his teammate James Hawthorne scored his fourth point at the line to take an 11-4 lead early.
But this is when the Riders turned the heat up from distance.
Carrington Love, Patrick Whelan and Marc Loving scored consecutive threes to take a seven point deficit into a two point lead.
Zach Jackson kept the pressure on the Patriots when the Riders swingman scored five straight, including a tough layup after stealing the ball, and getting a foul shot to drop.
As the first quarter came to a close, Patrick Lanipekun and Ryan Bissainthe closed the gap for Plymouth beforeJubril Adekoya hit a three for Leicester to make it an eight-point lead for the home team.
The Riders closed the first quarter with a three, and opened the second with the same – they worked the ball around and found Kimbal Mackenzie in the corner.
For the Patriots, Rashad Hassan kept finding ways to the rim. His pick-and-roll with Hawthorne and Isa Brandon created points, as did solo work in the post.
Mackenzie was either setting up teammates or shooting to keep his side ahead by up to 14 at one stage, but Hassan came right back and never let the gap get too big for Plymouth.
The Riders attempted to go two-for-one in the last 30-plus seconds, but the Patriots got a stop then passed the ball well in transition – Brandon found Hassan in the dunker’s spot for an easy layup.
Leicester still had a chance to score, but Whelan couldn’t hit the three and Plymouth went into the half with momentum, and just a seven-point deficit.
Plymouth’s zone defence to open the third quarter worked well. On offence, a pair of reliable free throws from Elvisi Dusha, plus a transition layup for Brandon, cut the gap to four.
Loving led a 7-2 run to push Leicester’s lead back up to double figures but Hassan made sure to keep his team within reach on a typical offensive rebound-putback sequence.
Just as the quarter came to a close, the relative newcomers to Plymouth showed their heart.
Otas Iyekekpolor checked in and immediately grabbed a defensive rebound. Up the other end Bissainthe found his teammate on the attack, who was fouled and hit both free throws.
Bissainthe then stole the ball and got a layup to go. And it was Lanipekun who made a big three to pull within four.
Leicester’s Mackenzie was fouled on the three-point line before the buzzer went, and he hit all three, but Plymouth had closed the gap to five before that.
Iyekekpolor and Lanipekun kept this going to start the fourth and within 90 seconds the Patriots trailed by just three.
It was a competitive back and forth down the stretch as Iyekekpolor and Loving traded the lead with threes.
Hassan got a two to cut the deficit to one, and got a great block to give Plymouth a chance to go for the win.
But a clutch defensive stop from Adekoya saw him get a hand in Dang Akodo’s pocket to take away the ball.
This put Leicester on the line, where Mackenzie sunk both, so Plymouth needed a three, which was snuffed out by good Riders defence.
It’s the start of a busy week for both teams, as they are in action on Friday, then will have a rematch on Sunday at Plymouth Pavillions.
Catch all the action this week on the BBL YOUTUBE CHANNEL