England doubled down on defence to earn their first win of the Lions Cup today, whilst also running tournament hosts Saint Charles Basketball close in a tight contest to begin Day 2.
After going 0-2 to open the tournament following tough losses to Belgrade and Poland on Saturday, England needed a win if they were to avoid finishing bottom of Pool A. In front of a reasonable crowd given the local support, England began their day against Saint Charles with a first quarter that was tight and defence heavy as both teams provided little for their opponent early on. It was the hosts who eventually moved into a lead, up 14-7 after 1, and England struggled offensively for the remainder of the half. Still, their defence remained a constant factor in the game and limited Saint Charles, with the teams heading into the main change at 23-14 to the French side.
The 3rd quarter was where England’s defence really went through the gears, limiting Saint Charles to just two points in the frame as they flipped the game on its head. Leading 30-25 going into the last, the contest was set for a tight finish. England remained ahead for the majority of the 4th before the hosts put their noses in front with less than 10 seconds left on the clock. It was a dagger blow for Coach Bourne’s side as they ultimately had to accept a 35-32 defeat.
L I O N S C U P 🏆🇫🇷— Basketball England (@bballengland) April 21, 2019
A disappointing loss for the boys after an amazing comeback. The game ultimately came down to a few missed oppurtunities in the final quarter. Overall a brilliant effort from the boys who have one more game this afternoon.#TogetherWeAreBasketbALL pic.twitter.com/97EIKqs88W
Dara Adeyemi enjoyed a strong performance, scoring a team high eight points to go with eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Louie Tucker scored five to go with five boards and a steal, as both teams combined to go 2/24 from beyond the arc in the contest.
The morning’s disappointment only served to fuel England’s push for a maiden win in Paris and they got their reward during the afternoon’s classification games. Being matched against 3rd placed Nanterre from Pool B, England started as they meant to go on, dialling in on offence to lead 23-16 after 1. That lead remained relatively stable for the remainder of the half as the boys went into the locker room up 40-32.
With the offence showing no signs of slowing, Nanterre simply couldn’t keep up as England tightened their grip on the game with some relentless defence. Stretching the lead out to 65-47 by three quarter time, the advantage made for a relatively comfortable final quarter as England grabbed their first win at the Lions Cup with a final of 84-65.
Plenty of players gave a great account of themselves to finish the day, with Isaac Round scoring 12 to go with a pair of rebounds and a steal. Myles Alcindor enjoyed his best game of the tournament so far to drop 12 points, grabbing three boards and nabbing two steals for good measure. Louie Tucker continued his good form for a 10 point, four rebound performance and Dara Adeyemi remained locked in, falling just shy of a double-double with nine points and a team high 12 rebounds.
“It was really good for the guys to get a win under their belt, one for their confidence, but also as a reward for their hard work that they’ve put in so far,” said Head Coach Chris Bourne after the victory over Nanterre. “The guys are tired, it’s been a tough couple of days and it’s warm in that gym. As I said, it’s about these players understanding that every possession that they play is important, and these guys have worked hard on that. We’ve got another game tomorrow, it’s another game to get better, so rest and recovery tonight and we’ll be ready to play at our best tomorrow.”
England’s fifth and final game of the Lions Cup will tip at 10:15am UK time and will be a rematch with hosts and Pool A rivals Saint Charles. That match up will be a battle for 5th and 6th place and we’ll have coverage and updates on our Twitter and Instagram channels. For more on today’s games and for a gallery of images, please use the buttons below.