London Lions Women

Photo: @mossfoto

Basketball

(W) London Lions v Caledonia Pride in the WBBL Play-Off Semi-Finals

🏀 London Lions women continue their pursuit of a domestic quadruple taking on Caledonia Pride at the Copper Box Arena in the WBBL Play-Off semi-finals.  Tip-off is at 2pm, see below for ticket details.   

CONGRATULATIONS to London Lions women who enjoyed a ground-breaking campaign in Europe, before going on to end the domestic season with a perfect 34-0 record.  Securing a clean sweep of the WBBL cup, trophy, league and play-off silverware, the 2021/2022 London Lions women’s team will go down in history as the best ever to play in the WBBL!  Stay tuned here for fixture and ticket news for the 2022/2023 season as soon as it’s published. 

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The 2020/2021 season was one to remember for London Lions women who swept to their first victory in the WBBL Play-Off finals courtesy of a dominant 93-71 defeat of Newcastle Eagles.  And this season the Lions have upped the ante with a roster stacked with exciting players (see below) including five GB internationals, competing on both domestic and European fronts.

It’s been a magnificent 2021/2022 campaign so far for London Lions who finished the regular WBBL Championship season with a perfect record of 24 wins from 24 matches.  The team has been described as the best side ever to play in the WBBL and this afternoon, tip-off 2pm, London Lions take on Caledonia Pride with the hosts looking to secure their place in the WBBL Play-Off final and go one step closer to defending their title and securing an amazing quadruple of domestic silverware.

The European adventure for London Lions Women earlier this season was one that will live long in the memory.  Led by head coach Mark Clark it was the first time in 10 years that a British women’s club side had featured in overseas competition.  The Lions certainly made their mark in the FIBA EuroCup, firstly by seeing off Spain’s Gran Canaria in the preliminary round back in September.  A landmark victory that was the first win by a British women’s team in European competition since 1987.  That result secured Mark Clark’s side qualification to the regular season proper and a rollercoaster Group K campaign saw the Lions qualify for the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams from each conference.  

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The European dream came to an end against top seeds Tango Bourges, but not before London Lions women pulled off a sensational victory in the first leg of the tie.  They beat their Belgium rivals 65-54 at Crystal Palace before Tango Bourges justified their status as No 1 seeds by taking control of the tie in the return fixture.

Photo: London Lions

Returning to domestic action London Lions women have been a class apart in the WBBL.  Firstly in sweeping aside Newcastle Eagles 87-47 in the WBBL Cup final at Birmingham’s Utilita in front of a crowd of over 6,000 fans.  Azania Stewart was named MVP after a commanding performance for the Lions in which she scored 20 points and contributed six rebounds.  And in the WBBL Trophy the Lions roared into the final at the Emirates Arena where they beat Sevenoaks Suns in impressive style by 72 points to 36.  Holly Winterburn top-scored for the Lions with 16 points and was named MVP.

In the WBBL Championship it’s been a similar story.  London Lions have been simply unstoppable racking up win after win to finish six points clear of nearest rivals Sevenoaks Sun, completing a title win (and with it claiming a third trophy of the season) last month.  And having qualified for the play-offs Lions saw off Durham Palatinates in ruthless style in the quarter-finals (final score 92-34), Jo Leedham-Warner and Holly Winterburn finishing with 17 points each as the Londoners made it 36 consecutive victories in domestic competition.

And so to this afternoon at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park … will London Lions notch up another victory in their relentless quest for Mission ‘Quadruple’ or can Scotland’s Caledonia Pride side (who pulled off a big surprise in the quarter-finals putting out Sheffield Hatters) continue the inspired form that has seen them progress to the play-off semi-finals for the first time in their history?  All roads lead to the Copper Box Arena to find out. 

The winners go through to the British Basketball Play-Off Finals at The O2 on Sunday 15 May where they will play the winner of Sevenoaks Suns and Nottingham Wildcats who meet in the other semi-final.

👀 London Lions ones to watch: Take your pick!  A stellar London Lions roster includes Shanice Beckford-Norton and Kennedy Leonard who have continued their excellent form from last season when they both starred in the Play-Off final victory over Newcastle.  Joining Beckford-Norton and Leonard for their first season with the London Lions have been GB national players shooting guard Joey Leedham-Warner – a 2012 Olympian and GB leading scorer who has spent previous seasons in France and Turkey in the women’s EuroLeague – and aforementioned centre Azania Stewart who is also a 2012 Olympian and Commonwealth Silver medallist.  Leedham-Warner has so far featured in the WBBL All-Star 5 eight times this season, more than any other player in the league.

Also recruited in the close season was British guard Leah McDerment and – in the Lion’s continued mission to acquire basketball’s most promising young talent – three-time WBBL Young Player of the Year, Holly Winterburn who earlier this season became the youngest player in the history of the WBBL to amass 1000 points.  And demonstrating the depth of quality in the Lions squad American guard Cassie Breen was the standout player in their recent league outing against Newcastle Eagles, finishing with 30 points as Mark Clark’s side produced another dominant display to win 94-47.  

For Caledonia Pride all eyes will be on star player Laken James who weighed in with 18 points as Pride beat Sheffield Hatters in the play-off quarter-final.

🗝️ Doors open at 1.30pm.  

🏀 Tip-off is at 2pm. 

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

🚊🚗 Travel tip: 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.

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