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London Lions release Ben Smith and eye new star for Xmas

Ben Smith. Photo: Andy Sidders Ben Smith. Photo: Andy Sidders

Tuesday, December 24, 2013
7:00 AM

London Lions have released US guard Ben Smith with head coach Vince Macaulay revealing that he plans to have a replacement signed today in time for this weekend’s crucial games at Sheffield Sharks and at home to Newcastle Eagles.

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The former Wichita State University star was one of three import signings that arrived in October – along with Nick Freer and Kramer Knutson – but a 12-month hiatus between graduation and the move to England, coupled with a torn tendon in a finger, had left Smith off the pace.

The parting of the ways comes after the capital club suffered a 93-64 reverse at British Basketball League championship leaders Worcester Wolves on Saturday – their heaviest defeat of the campaign and second in a row after a loss to Leicester Riders, which leaves them six points off the title pace.

Macaulay said: “Ben Smith didn’t play against Worcester because we released him after the Leicester game. We hope to have replacement in after Christmas.

“We just didn’t feel that he was giving us what we felt he would. We didn’t feel we had enough time to wait for him to get on point and we just felt that we needed somebody who was going to create a bigger threat for us on the outside.

“The lack of offensive scoring has caused us a problem here and there. We’ve identified that and just felt we couldn’t wait any longer to do something about it.

“As a person, he’s a marvellous guy. There were no issues with him off the court, but he accepted he’s not in 100 per cent shape like the rest of the players.

“It was really more a case of the aggressive nature that we wanted from an outside player. We pride ourselves on trying to be an aggressive team and we need everyone to be going in the same direction.”

Macaulay, who was ejected from the court before half time at Worcester for two technical fouls, hopes to give the club an early Christmas present by announcing a new signing today [Christmas Eve].

He said: “We have people in mind and we’re looking at people who can bring us offensive scoring. We feel that’s something we need to add to our very good defence.

“Looking at the statistics, we are the second best defensive team behind Leicester and in the games that we have lost; we’ve struggled to put points on the board, so we need more of an offensive presence.

“We are looking at two players – one is in the BBL and the other is from outside, so we’ll see which deal we can get done.

“We’ll make that decision today and try to get them in for the next game.”

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