London Lions 89-93 Promitheas Patras (25-19, 25-29, 15-26, 24-19)
Lions – Zubcic 24, Dekker 19, Oni 15; Patras – Cowan 26, Kulboka 14, Thomasson 13
Manchester Giants 110-99 Bristol Flyers (22-28, 27-20, 34-25, 27-26)
Giants – Green 32, Williams 31, Roberson 17; Flyers – King 28, Miller 17, Olison 16
What started well for the London Lions in 7Days EuroCup action saw Promitheas Patras launch a second-half comeback to win 93-89 at the Copper Box Arena.
While Tomislav Zubcic was shooting efficiently, his 24 points for London wasn’t enough as the Lions struggled to slow down the speedy Anthony Cowan for Promitheas, who scored 26 in the close contest.
The last time the London Lions met Promitheas Patras in EuroCup action was in Greece before Christmas, which resulted in a 10-point victory for the visiting team.
This time around, British fans welcomed Greek rivals to the Copper Box, where Zubcic got the scoreboard working with an offensive rebound and putback layup.
The second bucket was a more exciting presentation, with Sam Dekker stealing the ball away from Anthony Cowan. He passed to Zubcic and kept running to get the ball back and finish a transition dunk.
Dekker got out on the fast break again for a layup, but on the next possession, he showed an ability to find teammates: a difficult cross-court pass found Zubcic open, who hit nothing but net on the three.
Promitheas answer, with Arnoldas Kulboka hitting a three, which brought them within two points, but the Lions looked strong early.
Miye Oni found himself open at the top of the three-point arc on a good Josh Sharma screen, and the former Utah Jazz man got the long-distance shot to fall.
Anthony Cowan showed a quick first step for Patras, getting into the lane to dish it off to Dustin Hogue for the easy two.
Cowan penetrated again, but this time Sharma was waiting for him and elevated for a block at the top of the shot arc.
Trevis Simpson displayed an ability to fadeaway under pressure for Patras, hitting a shot at the top of the key.
Simpson thought he was open in the corner a few possessions later, but the long arms of Oni found their way to his three-point attempt.
Sharma showed he wasn’t just a defensive presence by receiving the ball in the low post for London. He allowed the play to unfold, backed down his defender and rose for a successful hook shot off the glass.
Luke Nelson worked in a pick-and-roll but couldn’t find a pass inside. Instead, he kicked it to Aaron Best, who was way outside the three-point line but confidently knocked it down.
Promitheas’ Michalis Tsairelis caused a few issues for the home team towards the end of the first quarter. He attacked mismatches to get the line and got a shot to fall.
A couple of free throws from Cowan saw the visitors close the gap to six to finish the first quarter down 25-19.
Patras began the second 10 minutes by attacking a mismatch with Tsairelis again, who span away from the defence for a left-hand hook shot on the low block for two points.
Sharma showed some fancy footwork in the low block for the same result, but Promitheas were building momentum on offence.
London’s Jordan Taylor used his veteran savvy to slow this down.
He looked off a brief double team out of the pick-and-roll. When the second defender retreated to his assignment, Taylor attacked the single coverage for a high layup off the glass.
The Copper Box fans were treated to back-and-forth highlights as Aaron Best got open on a back-door screen and leapt high to throw down an alley-oop from Taylor.
George Conditt followed this up with a thunderous dunk off a drive down the lane for Patras, but Zubcic stopped the visitors from getting too excited with a big three.
Good defence from London forced Promitheas into a turnover as the ball was tossed out to a streaking Dekker to throw down a transition dunk.
With less than two minutes to go in the first half, Dekker took control of the ball. On an attack from the left wing, he threw up the floater on the run, which bounced multiple times and rolled in.
Cowan got a three to go, followed it up after a Lions turnover with a pair of free throws for Promitheas, and drew his team within one.
Patras could have communicated better on defence during a high pick and roll between Oni and Sharma, which led to an open lane for the guard for a big two-handed dunk.
Conditt responded with a driving dunk, but his team was celebrating. Zubcic was flying down the floor to get a layup as the buzzer sounded to keep the Lions two points ahead at the half.
Arnoldas Kulboka got open for a three on the first play of the third quarter, which gave Promitheas their first lead.
Dekker responded with a three of his own for the Lions to make their opponents’ lead short-lived, for now.
That didn’t slow Patras down. Trevis Simpson got a three to fall, followed by Dustin Hogue’s attack, and Joe Thomasson got his first long-distance attempt to go, which forced Lions coach Ryan Schmidt to call a timeout.
Thomasson wasn’t a one-hit wonder and got open at the top of the three-point line for a score – all the momentum was with the visitors to start the third quarter.
To add an exclamation point, Kulboka popped after setting a screen and received the ball to hit an open three.
But London were scrambling to recover, and two Lions charged at him, with Zubcic committing a foul, giving the shooter a free throw.
Cowan hit another three for Patras, and Hogue got down low again, which topped off a 15-0 run for the visitors.
Taylor ended the drought for the Lions with a post-up step-back, through-the-legs dribble pull-up that looked sweet and felt even better for London.
After a defensive stop, Zubcic got down the court quickly, and Thomasson was forced to front him on the other end. Taylor recognised the mismatch and pushed the ball ahead for an easy two.
Not put off, Thomasson pulled up from three on offence and nailed it.
London had a chance to enter the fourth quarter confidently and found Zubcic open in the corner for three. His score brought the Lions within nine.
Vojtech Hruban opened the scoring for London in the fourth. He flashed up to the top of the key from the corner and settled into a comfortable-looking fadeaway.
Cowan squeezed off another three for Promitheas, this time under severe pressure from Nelson.
Up the other end, Nelson found Sharma rolling in the lane for a thunderous Shaq-like dunk.
London showed fight to close the gap, but the speed of Cowan stopped their mini-run with a transition layup, plus the foul.
Oni scored back-to-back buckets for the home team and had Thomasson under strenuous pressure. The Patras player nearly lost the ball but was fouled by Oni, so he went to the line for two successful free throws.
After Zubcic battled for an offensive rebound, he was fouled, putting the ball back up hitting both free throws for a EuroCup career high of 23 points.
Both sides ran out of team fouls, so when Jordan bumped Cowan 35ft from the rim, the Promitheas player went to the line for two successful foul shots.
On the other end, Cowan fouled Taylor while shooting a three, and the Lions’ point guard hit all of them to close the gap to six with two minutes to go.
It gave London an opening, and the home side turned up the heat on defence.
Dekker grabbed the rebound. He pushed the ball and found Oni on the wing, who saw a lane to attack the basket successfully.
Hogue hit a couple of free throws for Patras, but Oni wasted no time when the ball was passed in-bounds and burst past Thomasson for a dunk, closing the deficit to four.
Full-court pressure from the Lions saw Dekker deflect an in-bounds pass to Thomasson. The Patras guard tried to recover, but the ball bounced out of his hands.
London couldn’t convert an out-of-bounds play, but good defence on the other end stopped Patras from scoring.
On offence, Hruban’s miss from three saw Sharma get on the offensive board and miss, but Dekker flew in to get another put-back rebound in the bucket.
With the shock clock off and the game dying, Thomasson was fouled to stop the game, but he made both free throws to make it a four-point game again with 11 seconds to go.
The Lions had a few opportunities to draw within two from a well-run play, but they couldn’t execute, and the Promitheas got revenge for their home loss to London earlier in the season by handing the Lions one of their own.
The Lions moved to 7-9 with the chance to finish .500 on the season with two more games left before the playoffs.
A high-scoring Wednesday night in the BBL Championship saw the Manchester Giants protect home court against the Bristol Flyers with a 110-99 win, thanks to a double 30-point outing from Tajh Green (32) and Dirk Williams (31).
The Flyers had travel issues on their way up to the National Basketball Performance Centre, resulting in a slow start for the visitors.
But VJ King kept pushing the action for the Flyers and poured in 28 points in the losing effort.
The hosts got an early 7-2 lead thanks to quick play and attacking basketball led by Williams and Rahmon Fletcher.
A quick timeout for Bristol by coach Andreas Kapoulas saw the Flyers regroup and go on a 6-0 run.
Bristol’s Leslee Smith tied it up when he hit a foul line jumper off the glass from straight on.
Tajh Green responded with a three-point attempt from the wing off the with glass.
As Bristol warmed up, they started to build a lead with a 14-point run.
The burst included King finding Mike Miller curling to the top of the three-point arc, and he knocked it down.
Jelani Watson-Gayle then gave the Flyers their biggest lead of the half of 12 points by sinking a couple of free throws.
Manchester’s Nick Lewis brought them back into it with a three, and his teammate Dirk Williams did the same to cut the deficit in half before the end of the first quarter; the Giants trailed by six.
A full-court press from Manchester to start the second quarter gave Bristol a few problems.
Green was the beneficiary for the Giants when he received the ball after King lost it.
Brandon Mahan calmed things down for the Flyers when King found him for a successful three.
Green answered for the hosts with his own three, and a few possessions later, Williams hit another to pull within two.
Mahan hit another three to stay ahead, a fadeaway to the side under tough pressure.
But Nick Lewis responded for Manchester with another long-distance attempt to stay close.
Fletcher showed why he is a two-time MVP in the BBL by receiving the outlet and spotting Green fighting for position to get his arms ahead of a pair of Flyers.
The point guard floated the ball over the top of four Bristol players and it fell into Green’s hands for a layup and the foul.
Kofi Josephs received the ball on a dribble hand-off with Legend Robertin for the Giants and crossed over to shake his defender, who went under the screen.
This gave Josephs an open lane to get to the basket with his right hand for a layup off the backboard.
Robertin was rewarded for the good screen and some offensive rebounding with a two-pointer to tie the game a few possessions later.
Anthony Roberson gave Manchester the go-ahead bucket, and the home team had the momentum going into the second half, 49-48.
Each team traded threes to open the third, but Miller showed why he was the MVP for the Flyers in their last game with a pull-up mid-range after dancing into the lane.
Few people can block Robertin’s jumper, at more than 7ft tall, and after that, Manchester stayed in rhythm with Williams getting his shot off for the biggest Giants lead of the game up to that point.
Out of a timeout, a well-drawn play saw Miller put the floating pass up for Malcolm Delpeche, who threw down the safety jam with two hands.
With each four and six-point run the Flyers made, the Giants responded with a similar run to stay ahead.
Bristol’s Miller and King hit consecutive buckets with less than three minutes to go, but Williams responded for Manchester with a three.
Roberson was making the messy plays go in Manchester’s favour, as he hustled after every missed shot and tipped loose balls to teammates.
But Williams was the star who kept scoring down the stretch. He hit late free throws to push Manchester up by eight and his points total to 28.
On the in-bounds pass, Williams stole it and stepped out to the three-point line for another make and 31 total.
He was still one point behind teammate Green, who shot seven of ten from three for 32 points to lead the game.
The Giants win keeps their fight for fourth place in the Championship seedings alive, and they will welcome the Newcastle Eagles to Manchester this weekend.
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