London Lions seeks Leicester ‘payback’
PUBLISHED: 10:43 16 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:43 16 January 2014
Mike Martin says London Lions are seeking some “payback” to spoil the all-conquering Leicester Riders homecoming celebrations.
The British Basketball League champions retained the BBL Cup in Sunday’s final, storming back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Newcastle Eagles 72-69 and claim their fourth piece of silverware in just over year.
At the Copper Box, Lions have won nine out of 10 games this term, but their BBL title hopes took a hit over Christmas with three straight away defeats at championship rivals.
The fifth-placed Lions travel to the East Midlands on Saturday with a point to prove, having lost 91-78 in Leicester to spark that three-game slump last month.
“Number one, it was a kick in the teeth,” captain Martin told the Recorder. “We went there quite confident, feeling like we knew what we had to do in order to win.
“With basketball, if you make one mistake it could cost you the game and with that game we lost our way.”
Lions bounced back with comprehensive wins in the capital against Newcastle and Glasgow Rocks to warm up for the trip to Leicester.
“Now it’s about payback,” Martin said. “We’re playing a lot better, moving the ball a lot better and we’re a lot more focused now.
“I honestly feel this time is going to be a different situation. We’re going up there with the intention to win and hopefully that’s what is going to happen.”
Lions lie four points behind second-placed Riders, having played two games more, but a two-week break after beating Glasgow has afforded them extended preparation time as the franchise seeks to end its nine-game losing record against Leicester.
“This is exactly what we need right now,” said head coach Vince Macaulay.
“We looked at this as the halfway mark of the season.
“We want to turn our away record into a more positive one and we know what to expect in Leicester.
“It’s a big game against them because we’ve got to start winning on the road.
“If we get our game on against Leicester then we’re back in it (the title race).”
Martin, who is playing on despite a fractured rib, said: “We’ll do more homework, fine tune a couple of things and go into the game with that intention of winning and hopefully come back with one.
“Leicester are very good inside and out so we’ve got to pick our pauses, as to where we are willing to allow them to score and where we really don’t want them to score.
“They’ve got pretty good three-point shooters, so that will be something we’ll have to home in on and give them only one shot, secure the rebound and then we’re off to the races.”