The Leicester Riders take on the London Lions this Friday at the Morningside Arena as they look to make it back to back wins in the BBL Championship for the first time in 2020. Here’s all you need to know ahead of Friday’s matchup.
About the Lions
The Lions are looking to defend their first ever BBL Championship, and are riding high at the top of the table, with a single loss.
They are led by experienced Head Coach Vince Macaulay, who has been around British basketball for three decades. They have back two time league MVP, GB point guard Justin Robinson, American forward Brandon Peel, and British forward, Joe Ikhinmwin, as well as experienced British guard Andre Lockhart.
They have chopped and changed in other positions, which now include British guards Jules Dang Akodo, Jordan Whelan and Samuel Toluwase, as well as French forward/ centre Alioune Tew. They recently added veteran GB guard Ogo Adeboye, who has played throughout Europe, and Ethiopian forward Buay Tuache who played at Loyola Marymount university in the US.
But the key to their strength is the former Love Island star, and the best British player currently in the game, GB forward Ovie Soko, who joined from Murcia in the ACB in Spain. The Londoner has also played in the top flight for clubs in Greece, France and Italy.
Season So Far – Lions
The Lions have bounced back from a so-so start to the season, which saw them knocked out of both cup competitions at an early stage. They lost to Riders 72-63 at the quarter-final stage of the BBL Cup in late November, when Leicester performed an extraordinary second half comeback, after going behind by 18 points early on. The Lions’ Championship form has been excellent, with just a single loss away at Worcester Wolves 80-78. The Lions have won 3 straight in the Championship.
Season So Far – Riders
Riders bounced back from a tough run of games with a win over the Worcester Wolves last time out. The Riders currently have a record of 2&2 in the BBL Championship and are looking for back to back wins for the first time in 2020.
Players to Watch
It is hard to look past new signing Ovie Soko, who has been in dominant form since joining the Lions. Last time out, in the Lions win at Sheffield, was typical – Soko scored 23 points on 71% shooting and pulled down 11 rebounds, as well as drawing 7 fouls, in 32 minutes of play.
Riders Kyron Cartwright has stepped up his offensive game in recent weeks, and his match-up with GB point guard Justin Robinson will likely be a key to the game. Cartwright scored 30 points on 57% shooting, as well as pulling down 6 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists, in the win over Worcester.
Limited tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to purchase yours!