London Lions

Photo: @mossfoto

Basketball

(M) London Lions v Bristol Flyers in the BBL Play-Off Semi-Finals

🏀 Strap yourselves in for high octane basketball at the Copper Box Arena as London Lions bid for BBL Championship play-off glory.  Tip-off is at 5.30pm and tickets are available.

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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London Lions are looking for one last push in the BBL as they take on Bristol Flyers tonight in the second leg of their BBL play-off semi-final.  The first leg took place on Friday 6 May at the SGS College Arena in Bristol.  

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.

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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 progress to the BBL Play-Off Finals on Sunday 15 May at The O2. 

London Lions finished the regular season third in the table on 32 points with Leicester Riders – on 50 points – crowned champions.  But now it’s all about the play-offs as London Lions – who saw off Cheshire Phoenix in the quarter-finals – take on a Bristol Flyers side who stunned Manchester Giants in their last eight showdown, overhauling a 12-point deficit from the first leg to run out 173-171 aggregate winners.  

Can London Lions book their spot in the play-off finals, or will Bristol Flyers continue their red hot form to claim a famous semi-final win?  All roads lead to the Copper Box Arena to see the action unfold live.  Awaiting the winners at The O2 next Sunday will be either Leicester Riders or Glasgow Rocks who face each other in the other last four showdown.

👀 One to watch for London Lions: Isaiah Reese (pictured above).  The 25-year-old Miami native – who was signed from the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA G League – has been a key member of the London Lions team since he joined at the beginning of the season.  Top-scoring for the Lions has become Reese’s forte, including 25 points in their victory over Sheffield Sharks at the beginning of April and a haul of 26 points (together with seven assists) when London Lions beat Cheshire Phoenix to claim their 15th league win of the season and secure a third-placed finish ahead of play-offs.

🏀 Tip-off is at 5.30pm.

🎟️ 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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