December 10 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Pride will be the overriding emotion for home town debutant Julius Joseph when he first pulls on the London Lions vest and introductions don’t get much bigger than facing his first side Manchester Giants at the Copper Box.
The 37-year-old Londoner first burst on the British Basketball League scene for tomorrow’s visitors back in 2001, having graduated from Georgia College in the US.
A spell in Belgium and France followed before returning to Blighty with the Scottish Rocks (now Glasgow) and then Surrey Heat. He officially swapped the Guildford outfit for the Lions last week, just in time for the club’s landmark competitive BBL bow at their new home in the Olympic Park.
“Being from London and representing London means the pride will kick in,” Joseph told London24. “I definitely want to be successful because we are representing the whole city.
“It was about time we had a big, powerful club in the British Basketball League and now we’ve got one so it’s time to work, get better and get some results.
“No other club in the country has a venue like the Copper Box - it’s as good as it gets in terms of facilities.
“It’s something we really appreciate and we’ll make the most of it.
“The players can’t wait to get the season started. The Iowa game [a pre-season friendly last month to officially open the Copper Box] was a fantastic turn out and we’re hoping for similar crowds on a week in, week out basis.
“Playing in front of such a huge crowd is so exciting and gets the adrenalin pumping.
“We can’t wait to get on the court and start being successful.”
Tomorrow’s game is doubly significant for the veteran, who has played for England and Great Britain, as old club Manchester - where he averaged 17 points a game – come to town for the BBL curtain-raiser.
“Whenever I play an old club there is an extra little bit of adrenalin,” he said. “Anyone that is competitive will feel the same way.
“That is one of the games that I’m looking forward to especially, along with Surrey.
“My very first professional contract was with Manchester Giants. It was quite a while ago and I’ve changed organisations since then but I can’t wait to play against those guys because they’ve still got the same badge and are from the same place.”
The unfancied Lions reached suprised many to reach the play-offs last year but were knocked out by eventual champions Leicester Riders.
Switching their headquarters from Crystal Palace to the 7,000-seat all-purpose stadium in Stratford has raised expectation levels within the club and Joseph admits that they are gunning for the country’s top prize.
He said: “The goal is winning the league to get one of the top spots in the play-offs, getting to the finals and hopefully winning it.”
Head coach Vince Macaulay has spent the off-season busily recruiting new players to help fulfil those lofty ambitions.
“The chemistry is coming together and we all want to succeed just as bad as each other,” Joseph said.
“It’s rare that you get a group of guys that click so quickly and I think that’s what we’ve done.
“We’ve still got a few guys to come in which will make us even stronger.
“Judging by the league in recent years, I feel that we’ve got a really strong team and a really deep team.
“We’ve got a lot of players that are going to bring excitement on a day in, day out basis.
“We have a very special point guard in Rod Brown and I think he’s going to play really well.
“We have a forward called Nick Freer and he’s a bit of a high flyer so I’m sure he’ll be getting quite a few dunks during the course of the season, which will excite the fans.”
Brown in particular is one of the Lions’ core group of players from last season that Macaulay has convinced to re-sign and Joseph thinks the returning guard and the likes of Adrien Sturt, Perry Lawson and Laurent Irish will be the basis for London’s title tilt.
“It was important to re-sign Rod because the key to winning is trying to build consistency,” Joseph said.
“If you start a completely new team year in, year out, then it’s very difficult to win anything.
“The track record of teams like Newcastle and Leicester – teams that are used to winning - is because they keep the core group of guys and build on to it.
“That’s what we’ve done this season.”