May 14, 2021
A great second half saw the Lions make BBL history as they reached the BBL Championship play-off final with a 100-80 victory.
Only two out of 166 sides who had trailed by at least 12 points in a two-leg tie had overcome the deficit to win the tie, but the Lions progressed to the title game with a 180-172 aggregate victory and will now face Newcastle Eagles on Sunday evening live on Sky Sports.
It was a tough evening for the Lions as they lost talisman Justin Robinson with an ankle injury in the third period and also saw Orlando Parker leave the game early with foul trouble, but DeAndre Liggins stepped to lead from the front with 23 points and four assists.
Robinson had 17 of his 20 points in the first half, adding seven assists and three rebounds while Dirk Williams hit 15 points and pulled down five boards. Parker hit 13 before departing after just 18 minutes of action, but it was an all-round team effort as all 12 players got on the scoresheet and logged at least seven minutes of action.
Fahro Alihodzic's lay-up opened the scoring for the Lions and triples from Orlando Parker and Robinson saw them blast into a 10-5 lead, before a dunk from Dirk Williams and another Robinson score saw the London side have a 21-13 advantage after six minutes.
Chris Tawiah brought a bit of retro basketball to the game with a hook shot to make it a double digit Lions' advantage and seven Robinson points together with a score from captain Joe Ikhinmwin saw Vince Macaulay's side take a 33-23 lead into the first break.
Williams drained from downtown to open the second period and Kevin Ware's drive to the hoop saw his side take a 15 point lead.
But Will Neighbour started the Raiders' comeback as they hit 11 straight points to drag themselves back into the game and despite Liggins dropping another three, the Lions' lead was cut to 45-42 at half-time.
There was little to choose between the sides early in the third period as Robinson's triple made it 56-53 midway through the quarter but Williams and Liggins converted from the Land of Plenty to make it 73-63 at the final break. Jordan Spencer and Williams each hit threes, split by one from Morrell to extend the Lions' lead before Ikhinmwin hit a pair at the line to give them their first aggregate lead with 8:17 on the clock.
Liggins made it a 14-point lead with a triple and stretched the lead by three with a foul shot and a drive to the basket before Spencer's energy shone though as he took an offensive to set up Josh Ward-Hibbert for lay-up at the other end to again put the Lions up by 17 heading into the final four minutes, forcing a timeout from Raiders' coach Paul James.
Alihodzic slammed the ball home before leaving the game on a fifth foul, but the key moment came with 70 seconds on the clock as Liggins drained a triple to put his side up by seven on aggregate.
McGill replied as Raiders ran a quick offence before splitting a pair at the line and Ward-Hibbert found an open Williams to dunk to keep his team up by six.
Jules Dang-Akodo split a pair at the foul line but a massive rebound from Ward-Hibbert saw him set up another trip to the line for Williams. He hit both free-throws before the Lions got a defensive stop and Dang-Akodo sealed it at the charity stripe.