Surrey Scorchers 78-77 London Lions (20-21, 41-36, 65-61)
(Scorchers – Raftopoulos 20, Ogedengbe 19, Hamrick 13; Lions – Cugini 23, Neighbour 18, D. Williams 16)
Surrey Scorchers opened 2022 in spectacular fashion, picking up their first BBL Championship win of the campaign by beating London Lions 78-77 in a shootout in front of a sold-out Surrey Sports Park. It sees them improve to a remarkable 11-1 record in their customary New Year’s Day home game.
Scorchers came into this one on a run of seven straight defeats, with no win since the end of October and three previous losses to the Lions. But there were no signs of that as they led by double-figures early on when Caylin Raftopoulos scored eight points in an 18-8 start; and despite a Lions fightback and six lead changes, they re-established that margin just before the half as they held their visitors scoreless for four minutes and hit a 14-2 surge for a 41-31 lead in a run that was started by a Jules Dang Akodo buzzer-beating triple and ended with another from Raftopoulos.
The hosts held their lead throughout the third period as Raftopoulos connected on a trio of corner threes from the same spot, and took it into the fourth when Martelle McLemore went coast-to-coast to sensationally beat the buzzer.
But the game went down to the wire as Lions hit eight in a row to open the decisive period, Cugini scoring five of those among his 23 points to snatch the lead at 69-67 on his fifth triple.
In a frantic finish there were then six late lead changes as BBL veterans Tayo Ogedengbe and Andre Lockhart twice exchanged baskets, and it was Ogedengbe who followed a huge dunk with another score inside the final minute to seal it as Lions failed to score with six seconds remaining following a scrap on the floor.
Ogedengbe came up clutch and finished on 19 points, bettered only by Raftopoulos’s 20 on 6-8 (75%) three-point shooting. Dang Akodo, against his former club, came close to a triple-double with 12 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.
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