London Lions start new term with an overtime defeat to Newcastle in mini cup series

London Lions in action against Newcastle Eagles (Pic: Graham Hodges)

London Lions in action against Newcastle Eagles (Pic: Graham Hodges) - Credit: Archant

The 2020/21 British Basketball League season opened as it ended back in March – with a thrilling overtime game – at the weekend.

London Lions in action against Newcastle Eagles (Pic: Graham Hodges)

London Lions in action against Newcastle Eagles (Pic: Graham Hodges) - Credit: Archant

The first game of the season saw last season’s Trophy champions Newcastle Eagles pick up a victory away from home over hosts London Lions, 89-79, after going into the extra session.

Both teams were evenly matched throughout the contest, with no team leading by more than two points at the end of every quarter.

Eagles had started with Fletcher, Edwards, Pflueger, Gordon and Maxwell, whilst the Lions went with Kevin Ware, Dirk Williams, DeAndre Liggins, Fahro Alihodzic and Kervin Bristol.

The visitors had some early success with their transition game before the Lions got up to speed. Williams and Ed Lucas were instrumental in that quarter as was Justin Robinson, though it ended with the hosts down, 19-17.

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Good defence from both teams meant this was a tight game, whilst not free scoring. Rahmon Fletcher kept his team going whilst Williams hit a pair of triples as the game was tied at 36 before a three-rebound effort from Gordon saw the visitors enter the locker rooms up by a basket, 38-36.

Liggins was to the fore in the third as he and Robinson combined before Alihodzic had back-to-back offensive put-backs. Good shooting from Pflueger meant the Eagles only trailed by one at 55-54.

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Drama started in the fourth as Andre Lockhart made his entrance, quickly drawing three fouls, hitting a triple and making free throw. Captain Joe Ikhinmwin also drove and fouled out Maxwell as the pendulum swung to the Lions.

A backdoor cut from Fletcher cut the deficit to one point with eight seconds left as the Eagles fouled Liggins. He made both freebies and on the inbounds from Gordon, he was allowed to run the length of the court and attempt a three which tied the game to the dismay of the home bench.

As both teams entered the extra period, Eagles managed to dominate the home side, outscoring the Lions 12-2, giving them their first win of the new season and sending them atop of their BBL Cup group.

Whilst not only saving the game for his team, Justin Gordon also led his team with a whopping double-double of 24 points and 17 rebounds.

Williams led the Lions with 19 while Liggins led in boards and steals with 11 and five apiece.

The Lions will now travel to face the Sheffield Sharks on Friday (November 6).

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