London Lions 80 Manchester Giants 75
New signing, Joe ‘I Came To Win’ Ikhinmwin, led his London Lions to victory in their first official BBL game at the Copper Box Arena. The Lions launched a new era of professional basketball in Britain’s premier basketball arena in style, with a nail-biting win against the resilient Manchester Giants – however the game was far from easy.
The hosts were on top for the entire first-half after Rod ‘I Get Down’ Brown scored the first 2 buckets of the game, with a tasty in and out crossover that left his hapless defender lost and stranded on the wing with no help in site. ‘Captain Fantastic’ Mike Martin dropped a quick 4 of his own, followed by Ikhinmwin’s vicious slam – registering his first official Lions points in style. Five different Lions scorers were on the board as the pride of London maintained a 3 point lead, 18-15 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lions built momentum at the start of the second quarter as another two new signings checked into the game. Julius ‘The Professional’ Joseph and ‘Royal Albert’ Margai came off the bench to push the home team to even greater heights. Margai’s physical defense and Joseph’s deadly outside shooting fired London off on a one-sided 11-0 run that knocked the Giants back onto their heels. Brown continued the beat down at the end of the half off of an isolation play that put his defender on skates as he guided his team into to the half up by a healthy 16 points, 47-31.
As the second half got underway, Brown scored again to put the Lions up by 20 at 51-31 early in the third. At this stage the Giants looked like candles on a half eaten birthday cake (blown out), but the trio of utility man Rob Marsden, sparkplug Stefan Gill and BBL veteran Yorick Williams began to fight back. Marsden is a blue collar worker who puts on his hard hat and just gets to work, with a skill set that boasts little style but overflows in substance. His work around the basket and out to 12 feet gave the Lions more than a little to think about and it was primarily his play that led the Giants slowly back into the game. With Gill and Williams both peppering the Giants revival with timely 3-pointers and the ‘man-mountain’ (also known as Mike Bernard) proving to be an ever-growing problem under the basket, the visitors staged a valiant comeback which had everyone in the ‘Box That Rox’ on the edge of their seats as they drew within 1 point at 71-70 with just four minutes to play.
This Lions team is built differently than previous versions, with the addition of tried and tested veterans Brown and Joseph adding much needed composure in the clutch, alongside the irrepressible Ikhimnwin, they continued to answer the call each time Giants threatened to snatch the game out from their grip. Ikhimnwin simply refused to lose and out-hustled, out-worked, out-rebounded anyone in his path in logging his first impressive double-double of the season with 22 points and 14 boards in leading the Lions to the 80-75 win.
Marsden led the Giants with 19 points personal, but couldn’t prevent his team from catching a ‘L’ in London.
The Lions next home game is on October 10th against Worcester Wolves.
All players, coaches, fans and friends of the London School of Basketball: Use the LSB241 promotional code on all Lions tickets purchased through ticket master for a special ‘two tickets for the price of one’ LSB promotion – getting you inside the action with London’s biggest and best professional team!