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London Lions mauled by Wolves

PUBLISHED: 08:30 24 January 2017

London Lions captain Joe Ikhinmwin in action against Worcester at the Copper Box Arena (pic Graham Hodges)

London Lions captain Joe Ikhinmwin in action against Worcester at the Copper Box Arena (pic Graham Hodges)

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London Lions 71 Worcester Wolves 100

Zaire Taylor looks for a way through for London Lions against Worcester (pic Graham Hodges)Zaire Taylor looks for a way through for London Lions against Worcester (pic Graham Hodges)

Five minutes during which they conceded 20 unanswered points saw the London Lions soundly beaten by Worcester at the Copper Box Arena on Sunday.

Both teams had been in action on Friday night, with the Lions victorious against Glasgow and Worcester pulling off an impressive win in Newcastle.

And their head-to-head meeting lived up to its promise early on, with both teams battling at both ends of the court and the Lions pulling off some fantastic displays of defence.

But throughout the first half the Lions turnovers were a taste of things to come, as they struggled against a clinical Worcester side, and in the end they would turn the ball over 17 times.

Navid Niktash impressed for London Lions in their loss to Worcester (pic Graham Hodges)Navid Niktash impressed for London Lions in their loss to Worcester (pic Graham Hodges)

The first quarter saw a particularly strong performance from Kai Williams who started with a beautiful alley-oop, followed by a three-point shot that made the most of a lovely pass from Zaire Taylor via Alex Owumi.

Williams was just as good at the other end of the court with a fantastic reject that sent the Lions fans to their feet and, by the end of the first quarter, Williams’ seven points had helped the Lions to a four-point lead.

The second quarter saw the Lions quickly lose that lead, with it falling to two from the first possession. But they kept battling Worcester for the upper hand, with Taylor making a three-point shot that gave the Lions the lead with seven minutes to go in the half.

Owumi typified the quarter, with a beautiful steal that saw him pound up the court and pass to Taylor who missed a jump shot only to gain the rebound, then lose the ball to a bad pass.

Taylor, who has been struggling of late with his passing, forcing him to take difficult shots despite team-mates being in better positions, was soon back on the bench, having racked up three fouls.

But things were still looking good for the Lions when, with less than a minute left in the half, captain Joe Ikhinmwin pulled off a beautiful baseline save to pass the ball to Owumi who was behind the arc and sunk the three.

The Lions could have headed into the midway ahead, but for Worcester converting both free throws after Navid Niktash was harshly judged to have committed a foul.

The third quarter started well for the Lions and, two minutes in, they had tied the game thanks to a lay-up by Rashad Hassan.

Two Niktash free throws gave the Lions a slender lead, before the wheels came off their performance and it was a third quarter that the players and fans will want to forget.

Sloppy turnovers, poor shot selection and a strong Worcester attack that seemed to be able to score at will left the Lions stunned.

It took over five minutes before a Taylor 3treybroke the drought but by then the damage was done.

The Lions – whose shooting percentage fell to a woeful 31 per cent – were no match for Worcester who grabbed hold of the opportunity.

The one bright spot of the evening was the performance by Niktash who knocked down 22 points and seven rebounds and is quickly becoming a key addition to the Lions line-up.

The Lions, who now sit third in the BBL table, will be eager to bounce back as they take on the Bristol Flyers at the Copper Box on Friday (7.30pm).


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