BBL: London Lions 81 Bristol Flyers 68
PUBLISHED: 11:17 06 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:17 06 January 2019
London Lions continue to look very strong at the top of the BBL Championship as they opened 2019 with victory over Bristol Flyers.
Vince Macaulay’s side see their advantage increase as they move to 13-3 with the Flyers now at 7-4 as they drop below the Leicester Riders.
The home side flew out of the blocks as all five starters scored as they stormed to a 13-2 lead after 5 minutes, Daniel Edozie’s lay up the only Bristol score.
As the visitors worked their way back in, three successive threes from the Lions through Ladarius Tabb, Justin Robinson and Paul Guede made it 22-12 with just under two minutes left of the first.
Jalan McCloud’s buzzer beater made the score 26-18 at the end of the first quarter.
Energy from the Lions’ bench through Jerelle Okoro and Andre Lockhart kept things moving, then Brandon Peel dunked and it was 31-22, before an 8-2 Flyers run in which Okoro was the only Lions scorer with a pair of free throws suddenly saw the scoreboard at 32-30 with four minutes left to half time.
The Lions had looked a little sloppy and in particular unforced losses trying to dribble in traffic cost them.
Thomas got Flyers on terms at 32-32 before Kervin Bristol slammed off a Jordan Spencer assist.
But with 35 seconds left, McCloud tied at 39-39 before the Lions lost the ball and the same player beat the buzzer with a three-point shot and surprisingly it was the visiting Flyers who went in at the half-time break up 42-39.
It turned out that the Lions bench had been charged a technical foul right at the end, so Bristol would start the third quarter at the free throw line, with Justin Gray making the free throw to start the third quarter with a four-point lead.
Bristol would lead for a total of one minute and 40 seconds as whatever was said in the locker room, the Lions locked down on defence.
An 8-0 Lions start with dunks and threes served notice and it took two minutes before the visitors responded.
Another 8-2 run ended the contest, as Bristol would score a total of 10 points in the third as Lions players won every 50/50 ball, rebounded hard and transitioned into easy scores.
The third period ended with the home side up 63-52 and, although Bristol tried to fight back, the Lions were now at another level and kept them at arm’s length.
Dunks from Bristol and Tabb excited the crowd and when Robinson put Edozie on skates to splash the three everyone rose up and celebrated a strong Lions home win.
Robinson and Peel netted 19 points apiece in the win for the Lions with Tabb posting another double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.
Next up is a trip to Worcester on January 18 before the BBL Cup Final on the 27th at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.
Lions: Robinson 19, Peel 19, Tabb 14, Spencer 9, Bristol 8, Lockhart 7, Guede 3, Okoro 2, Ikhinmwin 0, Roberts 0, James 0, Ekperuoh.