London Lions at Copper Box

Photo: @mossfoto

Basketball

(M) London Lions v Bristol Flyers/Sheffield Sharks

🏀 London Lions face a big week of home action at the Copper Box Arena in the BBL ChampionshipTickets are on sale here.

CONGRATULATIONS to London Lions men who enjoyed a great campaign in Europe, before reaching the British Basketball Play-Off Final losing out to Leicester Riders by the narrowest of margins in a thrilling final.  Stay tuned here for fixture and ticket news for the 2022/2023 season as soon as it’s published. 

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It’s all to play for at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this week with London Lions in action against Newcastle Eagles, Bristol Flyers and Sheffield Sharks – all within the space of five days – as the hunt for crucial points in the race for the BBL title and a place in the end of season play-offs hots up.

London Lions have had a season to remember so far.  After a 2020/2021 campaign played largely behind closed doors due to the pandemic (which didn’t stop Lions winning domestic honours in the shape of a first BBL Trophy) the top men’s side in the capital put together an impressive roster in readiness to compete on domestic and European fronts.  The Lions acquitted themselves brilliantly in the qualifying stages of the FIBA Europe Cup, winning five out of six of their matches to finish joint top of Group A.  The second round stage was a step too far as Lions failed to progress to the knockout stages, but James Vear’s men ended with a flourish – fighting back to beat Denmark’s Bakken Bears 82-75 in the final group game – and will have taken enormous encouragement from a string of impressive performances on the European stage.

Now the focus for London Lions is the domestic scene (see below for an introduction to the BBL) and they come into tonight’s match looking to bounce back from a recent BBL Trophy final defeat (defending their title the Lions were beaten 82-68 at the Emirates Arena by Cheshire Phoenix) and some erratic form in the league.  But the signs are promising after the Lions beat Newcastle Eagles 92-74 on Wednesday night.

At the time of writing, London Lions are up to third in the table on 22 points, with three games in hand on both Manchester Giants and leaders Leicester Riders.  Their opponents on Wednesday 30 March were Newcastle Eagles (currently in eighth place) ahead of the visit of seventh-placed Bristol Flyers (who will be seeking revenge after their 74-77 home defeat at the hands of London Lions last week) on Friday 1 April, before Lions end the week with a Sunday afternoon showdown against a Sheffield Sharks side who are third in the table.

London Lions Copper Box

Photo: London Lions

Will the London Lions fans be roaring with delight this week as the BBL Championship points mount up, or will Newcastle, Bristol and Sheffield conspire to frustrate their hosts?  All roads lead to the Copper Box Arena to find out.

👀 One to watch for London Lions: Dirk Williams (pictured above) was instrumental for London Lions last season helping them lift the BBL Trophy for the first time.  And the 26-year-old 6’6 shooting guard from Alabama has been in imperious form so far this season, hugely influential in European action and a standout player on the domestic scene.  Williams weighed in with 21 points in Lions win over tonight’s opponents Glasgow Rocks earlier this month, and the USA star followed that up with a 22-point haul in the Londoners BBL Trophy semi-final win over Bristol Flyers.

🕒 Tip-off for London Lions at the Copper Box v Newcastle Eagles on Wednesday 30 March is at 7.30pm.

🕒 Tip-off for London Lions v Bristol Flyers on Friday 1 April is at 7.30pm.

🕒 Tip-off for London Lions v Sheffield Sharks on Sunday 3 April is at 4pm.

🎟️ Tickets are available via the ‘Get Tickets’ link.

🚊🚗 Travel tips: Public transport is recommended.  The nearest railway stations are Hackney Wick overground and Stratford International station (latter accessible from London St Pancras) both approximately a 10-minute walk.  Stratford (with links to the underground and DLR) station is about a 15-minute walk.  Plan your journey at the Transport for London website.  Limited parking is available at the Copper Box Arena, however parking is available at the nearby Westfield Shopping Centre.

🏀 About the BBL: The British Basketball League (BBL) is the top men’s professional league in the UK.  Running from September to May the primary competition is the BBL Championship in which all 10 BBL teams play each other three times to determine the top men’s team in British basketball over a 27-game regular season.  The defending champions are Leicester Riders who captured their fifth title in April 2021.

At the end of the regular campaign the top eight teams in the BBL Championship progress to the BBL Championship Play-offs.  The teams play each other home and away in the quarter-final round with the winners decided on aggregate scores over the two legs.  The semi-finals are also over two legs with the winners progressing to the final at The O2 in London.  The current title holders are Newcastle Eagles who defeated London Lions in the 2020/2021 final.

The BBL Championship is considered the primary competition and its winner the number one team that season.

There are two knock-out competitions that run alongside the BBL Championship.  The BBL Trophy in which the BBL clubs are joined by guest clubs in a straight knockout competition culminating in the BBL Trophy Final.

The BBL Cup involves just the BBL clubs and culminates in the BBL Cup Final.  This year’s tournament features two groups of five split geographically who will play each other home and away.  8 teams will progress to the quarter-final stages.  London Lions are joined in the BBL Cup South league by Bristol Flyers, Leicester Riders, Plymouth City Patriots.  Newcastle Eagles are the current BBL Cup Champions after defeating London Lions in the Cup Final in January 2021.

The BBL teams for season 2021/2022 are Bristol Flyers, Cheshire Phoenix, B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, Newcastle Eagles, Leicester Riders, London Lions, Manchester Giants, Plymouth City Patriots, Glasgow Rocks and Surrey Scorchers.

(BBL information courtesy of the British Basketball League website).

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