London Lions have won the BBL Trophy for the first time in their history after overcoming Plymouth Raiders 88-82 in a dramatic final live on Sky Sports at the University of Worcester Arena on Sunday evening. It came after their WBBL team achieved the same thing earlier in the day.
It’s Lions’ third piece of silverware since January 2019, and atones for a defeat in the final of this competition two years ago against their capital city rivals, while also bouncing back from BBL Cup Final defeat in January.
London meant business from the off in this one, leading from tip-to-buzzer despite it being close late on. A DeAndre Liggins step-back and a steal and dunk from Dirk Williams sparked a 12-2 burst that made the score 18-7 in the first quarter, as they allowed Plymouth just one bucket in five minutes.
Rapid starts to the second and third periods kept Raiders close, with the latter being a 15-2 burst that included nine for Rickey McGill – who finished with a game-high 31 – and that was a theme of this game as Raiders stayed within striking distance throughout, but could never get in front.
Every time London’s lead look threatened, it seemed like one of their standouts – Williams or Liggins – was there to hit a big shot. Williams snapped the third quarter run with a three-pointer, and then hit another in a 9-2 response that sent the lead back to 63-55.
Lions could never shake Plymouth off, and they were back within one shot on numerous occasions in the fourth period, including at 74-71 before Liggins made a big ‘and-one’ play. And with the game still on the line heading into the final minute, he made a free-throw and then had a second one that was bouncing around tipped in from the rim by the defence for two points, 84-77 with one minute to play.
There was still time for more late drama as Justin Robinson missed a pair of free-throws before Denzel Ubiaro tipped in to make it a one shot game with 12 seconds to go, but Orlando Parker iced a pair at the charity stripe to ultimately settle it.
It was Liggins who lifted the MVP award, with a near triple-double of 19 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and five steals.
Speaking to Sky Sports immediately after the game, Head Coach Vince Macaulay said,
“I need to shoutout to the London Lions fans because they are not here to enjoy this with us. We are doing this for them, working really hard in this environment with no one around us and it’s for the fans, and I know they will appreciate getting this.
“We had to be animated today, and in all reality we were very focused on the job at hand. It was important for us to come out here and just concentrate on Lions and what we were doing, don’t let anything take us out of what we need to do, and I think we did that very well all the way down the stretch.
“In sports it’s all about winning, if you don’t win it doesn’t matter how well you have played. We have been there, stood on the side line while Newcastle Eagles lifted the Cup having played extremely well in that game. It’s all about counting those trophies, because we want that to be the result of all our hard work.”
In the BBL Championship, Surrey Scorchers and Bristol Flyers both won at home on an exciting Saturday evening of basketball.
The days early tip-off saw Surrey Scorchers welcome Newcastle Eagles to the Surrey Sports Park in a close fought encounter. Scorchers came out on top in a battle right to the very end, eventually winning 88-84.
The sides kicked off with an opening 50-point quarter as they both looked to gain an early advantage with the game tightly poised at 26-24 in Scorchers favour. It was Scorchers that got their necks in front and they found themselves leading by nine at the half time break.
Eagles fought back and reduced the gap to five going into the final quarter and even found themselves ahead deep in to the last. However, clutch free throws from Tayo Ogedengbe and Tony Hicks put the game out of the reach of Eagles as they suffered their eighth defeat of the season.
Lacey James led the scoring for the home side finishing on 17 points and 8 rebounds. Cortez Edwards finished with a game-high 26 points for the visitors, but it was not enough as his side slipped to defeat.
Bristol Flyers came out on top in overtime in the evenings second game as they beat Glasgow Rocks 91-84. Much like the first game the first half was a tight affair with the lead swapping hands throughout. Flyers were ahead by four after the first only to find themselves trailing by 1 at halftime with the score at 42-43.
Flyers came out a different team in the second half and started to pull away from their opponents in the third quarter. They limited Rocks to just 9 points in the quarter as they went in to the last with a 9-point lead. Rocks, however, put in a momentous effort to come back in the last and were ahead with less than 30 seconds to go. A late Eric Lockett lay up for Flyers saw the game go into overtime.
Flyers kicked on again in the overtime to win by 7 points in a fascinating encounter against a spirited Rocks side.
Justin Baker was the star man for the flyers with a team high points tally of 23 and 7 rebounds. Christian Keeling put in a massive double-double performance for Rocks with 28 points and 11 rebounds as his team remain bottom of the BBL Championship.
The Worcester Wolves got their revenge on the Glasgow Rocks after last Sunday’s defeat at the hands of the Scottish side by beating them by 19 points on Friday evening.
The Rocks went into the second quarter just two points down and even took the lead and held a four point lead with six minutes left before half-time, but three consecutive trips to the line after fouls on Brandon Anderson followed by two three point shots in a row from Josh McSwiggan helped put the home team in front with a margin of 13 points at half time.
Glasgow didn’t respond well at the start of the second half as they got three points from Johnny Bunyan inside the first minute, but they wouldn’t score again until two minutes and 45 seconds later when Christian Keeling nailed a triple – but that shot was in-between two further three point shots from McSwiggan which put the tie out of reach for the visitors.
After it was revealed captain Maarten Bouwknecht would play no part in the fixture, it was a requirement for the Wolves that someone would step up in his place and lead the team to victory, and Anderson did exactly that, dropping 26 points as well as grabbing seven rebounds and dishing five dimes to teammates in a stellar performance from the young guard.
McSwiggan also stepped his game up, nailing five triples, while stand-in captain Jordan Williams almost managed a rare double-double of rebounds and assists – falling just short having assisted nine times, while Lamar Kimble’s game high of three steals also helped seal the win in what was an all-round perfect performance.
Isa Brandon was arguably the most impressive player on the Rocks roster tonight, scoring 15 points in just under 19 minutes of game time while also grabbing five rebounds and two steals for his team who had plenty of success off the bench, with Boban Jacdonmi also reaching double figures for scoring in under twenty minutes of action.
Ronald Delph managed an incredible four blocks for the Rocks, while Christian Keeling led the scoring for his team, managing one more than Brandon but also contributing six rebounds and three assists too – but the Rocks will be hoping for more in the next game not just from Keeling but from everyone.