December 7 2013 Latest news:
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Thursday, September 26, 2013
Lions heading for BBL glory
Mike Martin has revealed it was the desire of London Lions head coach Vince Macaulay to re-establish a basketball powerbase in a capital city once dominated by the London Towers and the London Leopards that convinced him to stay with the Lions.
The club captain, who had previously captured every major domestic honour as part of a successful Guildford Heat side (now Surrey Heat), helped guide the newly-formed-outfit to the British Basketball League play-offs last season.
After penning a new deal in the summer, Martin says that this year they are gunning for BBL glory, starting with the curtain-raiser on Friday when Manchester Giants will be the first English visitors to London’s new home at the Copper Box.
The move to the Olympic Park this summer was a major coup for a franchise that, two years ago, were playing in Milton Keynes as the MK Lions but were threatened with extinction when their home was sold out from underneath them.
Macaulay hastily moved them to Crystal Palace, rebranded them and they surprised many by reaching the play-offs, losing to eventual champions Leicester Riders.
Describing the conversation with the former London Towers player that originally persuaded him to become a Lion, Martin said of his coach: “I loved his vision and I’m still part of that and happy to be here.
“It’s been a long time since there was a club in London so that, in itself, is huge for us as well as for basketball in the UK.
“The clubs that were in London back in the day were powerhouses, so he’s hoping to replicate that this season.
“Now we are the only club in London we’ve got a lot of young talent here, a lot of local guys at the club, so there is a sense of pride here now.
“It means you get that little bit more from us, playing in front of our home crowd, our families and our friends.
“It should allow us to achieve things better than we did last season.
“For our first season in the league, and having put everything together at such short notice, it was a huge achievement last season but Vince wants to win silverware, that’s the bottom line.”
With the coach and players raising the bar in terms of aims this term, their new home is likely to make them one of the sides to beat, but Martin believes the team, who have added six new stars in the off-season, will be able to cope.
“The Olympics were known for the Olympic Park, so to be mentioned in the same sentence as that, it will attract people,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of pressure on us, with regards to making sure it works, but we’ve got a bunch of level-headed guys here who understand that.
“We’ll take the pressure in our stride and Vince will help calm us down, plus the experience of myself, Julius Joseph and Rod Brown we’ll be able to rally the guys and win home and away.”