Joy and heartbreak for London Lions in trophy finals

Contrasting emotions were on show for London Lions this season, as their men’s and women’s teams experienced opposite fortunes.

The London Lions men were no match for Cheshire Phoenix in the British Basketball League Trophy final.

A lacklustre second half saw the team fall to Cheshire at the final hurdle for the second time in three seasons.

Lions’ guard David Nwaba led his team in scoring with 18 points but was outgunned by Phoenix point guard Laquincy Rideau, who finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and two assists to earn trophy final MVP honours.

London Lions have now lost four of five finals, while Cheshire’s win marks their sixth successful BBLT win.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Lions guard Jordan Taylor said: ”They came out, they made shots, played defence.

”I think we only had maybe, I don’t know what it was, 40, 30-something points in the second half.

”They came out prepared so hats off to them.”

Despite their recent finals record, London Lions were pre-match favourites, having come into the fixture off the back of clinching a playoff spot in EuroCup for the second successive season.

But Cheshire were determined to flip the script.

Rideau said: ”Going back to September everybody doubted us – some had us down at eight or nine.

“I know, I kept it.

”I knew what we had got, I believe in my team.

”We have got a great group of fans, we love them.

”We are not underdogs, we are top dogs.”

Meanwhile, in the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL), London Lions overcame Essex Rebels 83-67 to clinch their fourth successive WBBL trophy.

Lions centre Megan Gustafson was awarded MVP honours after finishing the game with 15 points and 8 rebounds.

In addition to their victory over Essex, London is yet to be defeated in the regular season, and Gustafson was effusive about her teammates.

Interviewed by Sky Sports, she said: ‘’It’s really exciting to be with this team and get this win.

‘‘I have to give them [Essex] a lot of credit.

”They fought really hard and they gave us a lot of challenges so really just proud of this team.

”We put in so much work each and every day in practice challenging ourselves and I couldn’t be more proud of this group.”

Lions head coach Stella Kaltsidou added: ”[i]t’s a really big opportunity I’ve been given.

”I’m really grateful for my team.

”The girls are amazing.”

The London Lions mens team are next in action later this evening as they look to boost their hopes of securing a top-2 group finish in EuroCup with a trip to Slovenia against Cedevita Olimpija Ljubliana.

Elsewhere, Lions Women will resume WBBL proceedings with a game against Sheffield Hatters on Sunday 4th February.

Featured image credit: Deposit Photos

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