March 12 2014 Latest news:
Exclusive by James Cunliffe
Friday, December 13, 2013
Vince Macaulay is targeting a perfect finish to 2013 as London Lions prepare for four consecutive games against British Basketball League title rivals that could shape their season.
The fourth-placed Copper Box club travel to face Leicester Riders on Saturday, aiming to maintain their two point gap over the fifth-placed current champions before clashes against the three teams above them – Worcester Wolves, Sheffield Sharks and Newcastle Eagles – who are all level, two points clear at the top.
Lions beat winless basement boys Birmingham Knights 101-72 on Sunday to bounce back from a defeat up at Glasgow Rocks – their first reverse in five games.
Head coach Macaulay said: “The guys came out and did what they needed to do and used it as preparation for the series of hard games that we’ve got coming up.
“We’ll come out of the next two or three weeks knowing exactly how good we are.
“We set ourselves a goal, which is to win all our home games and then take the head-to-heads against all the teams around us.
“It’s the first time we’ve played Leicester this season so if we take this one it will put us in the driving seat for winning the head-to-head.”
Leicester ended London’s play-off dreams last year on their way to claiming the title and the east midlands side will be in confident mood after becoming just the fourth team in history to make five consecutive BBL finals when they beat Plymouth Raiders 104-77 at the weekend to reach the cup showpiece.
“Fortunately we’re above them in the [league] table at the moment but they’ve just qualified for the cup final and are defending champions so it’s going to be a tough start to a hard run,” Macaulay said.
“We’re just going to attack it very positively and make sure we are focused for the next few games.”
Unlike London, Leicester only have Rashad Hassan making an appearance at the top of the league’s various individual stat-sheets this term (third in the two-point percentage rankings). Riders’ place in the top half of the table would suggest that they are a strong team unit but Macaulay has highlighted London-born Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan as their danger man.
He said: “They are built like that [a strong team] and that’s where their success came last year, it’s only until you watch them in the flesh and realise how much hard work Drew Sullivan is doing for them.
“They’ve got a mix of new guys, old guys and younger players but he’s the one consistent that comes through when they need it.”
The Riders forward his debut appearance the current BBL team of the week - as did team-mate Jay Couisnard - after leading his team into another BBL Cup Final with a terrific double-double against Plymouth Raiders. His 16 points and 14 rebounds were also supplemented by a stunning eight assists as he rubber-stamped his class on proceedings.
Lions guard Perry Lawson will be available for the Leicester game after being rested with an arm strain on Saturday.
Macaulay said: “Perry Lawson didn’t play at the weekend, he had a slight strain on his arm so we decided not to risk him ahead of this busy run, so apart from that we’re fine. He’ll be back for Saturday.”