The London Lions were shocked by the Worcester Wolves on Friday night, as the away side cruised to a 97-85 victory at the Copper Box Arena, much to the surprise of the crowd.
The game started off close with both teams trading buckets back and forth, though the first quarter saw neither side make a notable run. For the Wolves, it was the big man Alejandro Navajas who was hurting the Londoners early on, grabbing offensive rebounds and getting second chance points, but not before early foul trouble gave the Lions a needed break as the Spaniard hit the bench.
Both teams closed out the half shooting well, as both sides struggled to make a strong, consistent effort on defence.
Heading back into the action, half-time seemed to do wonders for the Wolves, who came out with energy and intensity which was never consistently matched by Vince Macaulay’s squad.
Damage From Downtown
Essentially killing the game for the Lions was the Wolves’ expert accuracy, shooting lights out from three, hitting an impressive 17 of 27 from behind the arc, a well above average 63% three-point field goal percentage. Even when the Lions heavily contested shots and brought help on defence the threes continued to rain in, which surely demoralised the home team greatly.
Brandon Peel proved to be a difference maker for the Lions yet again posting another dominant double-double, ending the game with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Peel was cleaning up the boards all night, alongside his nice looking stroke, hitting a few jump shots from mid-range. Unfortunately, the rest of the roster could not match Peel’s intensity on the boards which led to Worcester edging the Lions on rebounding, leading to second-chances for the Wolves on offence, of which, they took advantage of. This was reiterated by Lions guard Justin Robinson.
“They killed us on the boards,” he said following the game.
The Lions did not fail on the offensive side, as a number of players posted good scoring figures. Instead, it was the threes that just would not drop consistently, with the Wolves having some of the best shooting of their season, and ultimately, running away with the game.
“We were trading twos for threes: we’ve come down hit a two and they go back up and hit a three, we won’t win if we play like that,” explained Robinson.
The team didn’t seem to have an answer for the Wolves’ shooting, failing to adjust on defence.
“We have to be aware of who are the key guys and who’s scoring and we have to change that – we didn’t do that and it’s a disappointing loss, especially after a big win against Newcastle,” added the experienced point-guard.
The key players for the Wolves were Navajas and Michael Ojo who kept attacking London with intensity.
In the fourth quarter, Ojo hit the final dagger mid-way through after his contested shot extended the lead back into double-figures, something that the Lions didn’t recover from.
On an individual level, Robinson had a solid game, putting in 18 points. Though his disappointment after the loss was apparent.
“We have to grow as a team and not play down to that level,” explained the Great Britain star.
Positives the team can take away from the game included the ball movement on offense, which was showcased through numerous double-digit scorers – the notable ones on the night being Peel, Robinson and the club captain Joe Ikhinmwin.
Going into the next game, the club based in the Olympic Park cannot afford to be relaxed on defence with the league leading Leicester Riders coming to town on Wednesday for the first of a three-game series between the sides.
This will also be the Lions last home game of the month, so a win will be key heading into a challenging away stretch heading into the month of March.