London Lions have become the first-ever UK team to qualify for the EuroCup playoffs after beating Veolia Towers Hamburg 83-66 at the Copper Box Arena last night. The Lions were led in points by Kosta Koufos, who registered a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds, Sam Dekker also continued his brilliant form in the competition scoring 15 points – taking his average points per game to 19.0. The win improves the London team’s record to six wins and eight losses as they sit seventh in Group B.
The Lions have four games left in the group stage of the competition before they enter the playoff rounds, with each remaining game being vital to improve the Lions’ position in Group B – resulting in securing a lower-placed side in the playoffs, with the higher ranked regular season team in each matchup also enjoying home court advantage.
Head Coach Ryan Schmidt’s side now have a chance to secure qualification to the EuroLeague – the most prestigious European basketball competition – if they reach the final of the EuroCup. Fundamentally, last night’s momentous win and the subsequent progression to the next round shows that the Lions can compete with Europe’s best teams.
The game was watched in front of a crowd of just under 4,000 as British basketball continues its rapid growth in popularity. This comes after the Lions have boasted several sold-out crowds for their previous EuroCup games at both the Copper Box Arena and the OVO Arena Wembley.
The team boast a plethora of talent, including former Miye Oni, Sam Dekker, Kosta Koufos and Aaron Best. The London team has assembled a star-studded roster with a hybrid of homegrown tier-one talent, in addition to ex-NBA and further international signings, with the diverse squad boasting an abundance of experience playing in major basketball leagues around the world.
Head Coach of the London Lions, Ryan Schmidt said:
“I was pleased with our overall effort and to me, the thing that stands out is just the contributions from the entire team. That’s something I think we’ve been struggling with in this competition, especially as of late. We made some adjustments to our rotation, it wasn’t that anyone did anything wrong but I felt we needed some more balance. I thought the balance was really good and I also thought it helped us with our consistency on the defensive end as well as being able to play and sustain that effort. Anytime you get a win in this competition it’s satisfying and to be able to do it at home was really cool. We just have to continue to build on it again, we have a few games left before playoffs but we want to continue this trajectory.”