London Lions have two more chances to clinch first-ever BBL Championship crown
PUBLISHED: 11:00 25 April 2019
London Lions will have two chances to clinch the British Basketball League title this weekend after missing out on Easter Monday.
Head coach Vince Macaulay and his side will travel away to Newcastle Eagles on Friday night before returning to the Copper Box Arena where they host Leicester Riders on Sunday.
The BBL Cup winners and BBL Trophy runners-up currently sit four points clear of second-placed Riders heading into the final two fixtures of the 2018/19 season.
Cheshire Phoenix didn't read the script as they took an impressive victory live on BBC Sport to deny what London Lions had hoped would be their first ever BBL Championship title on Monday.
It had looked like Lions would record a major slice of history, but celebrations were put on ice as Phoenix further boosted their own BBL Play-Off prospects with a late surge.
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The Phoenix had started fast in the first quarter, but Lions matched them as reigning MVP Justin Robinson and Andre Lockhart kept the scoreboard moving.
Great defence was restricting Cheshire marksman Latinovic, but Daniel Norl was carrying on from his impressive performance in their victory over Manchester.
Joe Ikhinmwin and Paul Guede injected some much-needed urgency in the quarter, but excellent scoring from Norl and relentless offensive rebounding from the Phoenix allowed them to edge ahead.
A late three in the corner gave the visitors a 46-42 lead to take into the locker room.
On the resumption Lions looked a little sharper and quickly wrested the lead back, as both teams slugged at each other with the Lions one point to the good entering the fourth.
At 78-72, on the back of two Ikhinmwin free throws, Lions looked firmly on course to lift the precious BBL silverware, but Cheshire then scored 12 straight points in what was a nightmare drought to make it 84-78 with 30 seconds left.
A score from Robinson, then a steal from Spencer saw him run up and score making it 84-82, but two Norl free throws followed and, despite another Lockhart score, Lions had to foul meaning another two from the line for Cheshire saw it end 88-84.