Matthew Bryan-Amaning, arguably the best player of his generation, signed a short-term 3 game deal for his hometown London Lions and set about dominating the BBL in what may prove to be a glimpse of the very near future.
MBA was back in London from South Korea as he awaited clearance on his contract to play for Antibes (France Pro A). While he was in town, it didn’t take long for the Lions to pounce on the GB International. “Signing Matthew was a real coup for us” said Lions resident Voice Of Reason, Nhamo Shire. “He is the type of player and standard we strive to be about, a local homegrown talent who can compete on any court across the globe. When the opportunity to bring him back home arose, I called (Lions Head Coach) Vince (Macaulay) right away and we got it done in a matter of hours” he continued.
The ink on the contract barely had time to dry before MBA was in action for the Gold & Black at the Copper Box Arena. Lions faced league leaders Worcester Wolves in game that looked to be London’s for the taking. Up 5 with less than a minute to play, the Wolves somehow managed to force overtime and ultimately squeaked out of London with an improbable 63-62 win. MBA had a chance to win it all on the buzzer, but his jump shot rimmed out putting a dampener on what was otherwise a stellar debut. He finished the game with 13 points, 5 blocks and 6 rebounds and sent notice to the rest of the BBL that London would soon be calling and they better be ready for what was coming their way.
In his second game, MBA demonstrated he had clearly gotten more comfortable with his new team and led the charge in what threatened to be an embarrassing blow out against the Plymouth Raiders. Up by 21 points in just the first quarter, Bryan-Amaning playing alongside Lions Rod Brown and Julius Joseph, looked every part the superstar the BBL has craved for so many years. Though he finished the game with an impressive 18 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, it was his impact on the defensive end and in transition that really stood out from the normal ‘big man’ play commonly found in the British top flight. His athleticism and ability to cover ground and change shots often left the Raiders looking lost and devoid of ideas of how to attack the Lions basket. The Lions ran out 100-92 winners in a score that flattered Plymouth, to be fair.
If the first two games of Bryan-Amanings’ Lions tour of duty gave a taster of his extraordinary ability, the third and final game against the Glasgow Rocks served the whole league a tantalising feast at what the future may hold for Britain’s top tier league in the very near future…Pure domination.
MBA had his best offensive outing finishing with 28 points and 8 rebounds in leading the Lions to a come from behind win, 80-77, against the talented squad from Scotland. He proved to be too quick, too long, too skilled and just too much for the Rocks to handle – much to the delight of the Lions crowd. “Having a London born and bred NBA level talent don a Lions jersey, representing his hometown has been great and exactly what we are all about. He’s given us a real boost as we awaited our work permits for our three Americans, and helped us to a top tier position in the league while he’s been home. We are sad to see him go for now, but wish him well in the French top division and hope to have him back home in the very near future” said Lions supremo Vince Macaulay.
When it was all said and done, MBA finished his 3 game romp through the BBL in the top 5 in scoring (4th) blocks (2nd) and top 10 in rebounding. “It was fun to play in front of friends and family while representing my hometown. I’m glad I was able to help London get some wins and hopefully the guys can now carry that momentum on to a great season ahead” MBA said.
On behalf of the London Lions players, coaches, staff and supporters – we want to wish Matthew the very best of luck in the season ahead as he flies the flag for London in the French professional league. You can follow his progress for the season ahead here: http://www.sharks-antibes.com
Meanwhile, here’s a montage of his Lions highlights amassed over the 3 games (courtesy of Hoopsfix.com):