Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

The London Lions make history in strong start to season

Posted on 27 October 2021 by Terry Vogt
Credit – Graham Hodges

On the 13th of October the London Lions won their first ever European competition, and became the first British men’s team to win a European fixture in the last decade.

The Lions defeated the Netherlands’ Donar basketball club by twenty four points in a one sided Federation Internationale de Basketball Amateur (FIBA) Europe Cup duel. Point guard Marquise Teague led the way scoring 22 points, grabbing 6 rebounds and adding 6 assists for good measure. Head coach Vince Macaulay spoke with and gave his point guard high praise, “Marquise Teague and Aurimas have been itching to get into the fray came into today and showed what they were about.” Macaulay continued to praise him team adding, “To get that win is tremendous for the London Lions and what we’re doing. Hopefully going forward we can add to this.”

The Lions did exactly that and achieved another European victory on the 20th of October, this time at their home court Copper Box Arena. The Lions secured a ten point victory against Germany’s Kapfenberg Bulls and looked dominant defensively all game. Isaiah Reese led the way scoring a team high 18 points on 8/14 shooting, another team high 6 assists, and also grabbing 4 rebounds. After the game their head coach, Vince Macaulay, praised his team’s defense, “I thought we showed some real resilience, there’s a reason we have the best defensive record in the competition.”

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Before the London Lions, the last men’s basketball team to win a European fixture was the Brighton Bears. Randy Duck led the game in scoring with 49 points, setting a record that still stands. At the time the Brighton Bears head coach was the now NBA Toronto Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse. This victory came about on the 27th of January 2004 when Brighton won a double overtime thriller against Cholet Basket in a Eurocup fixture. Since this win Nick Nurse has gone on to win an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, while the Bears signed a 45-year-old NBA legend Dennis Rodman to play in 3 fixtures two years later.

Outside of the FIBA Europe Cup games, the Lions have started their domestic British Basketball League season with a record of 6-1. The Lions are currently sitting atop of their South group in the BBL Cup competition table. We will see how long the Lions can continue playing at this high level, and if their dominant defensive play can lead them to some trophies this season. The United Kingdom has been looking to enter themselves into the European basketball scene for years now in an attempt to help grow the sport’s fanbase in the UK, and if the Lions can keep it up they will be headed in the right direction towards doing so. The London Lions face Medi Bayreuth in London on October 26th for their next FIBA Europe Cup fixture, and will be looking to continue their hot streak.