|Bristol Basketball United
|Teesside Lions Men
DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR LIONS
Bristol Basketball UnitedV
Teesside Lions Men
Saturday 13th January|
By Jordan Clarke
Teesside Lions had a long but productive weekend double-header down South, where they beat Bristol United on Saturday and then Bristol Flyers on Sunday.
The pair of victories moves the team ahead of Northampton Titans in the league table but still in eighth place due to five games in hand and only 6pts from fourth place.
Bristol United 57-71Teesside Lions
Emmanuel Kabengele had the hot hand to open the first game, scoring 10 points in the first quarter to help give the Lions an early advantage.
Another recent addition, Jamie Glen, was also heating up for Teesside, adding 7pts while there was steady contributions from Arran Baxter and Tom Wylie.
With just three minutes remaining in the first half, Bristol were developing momentum as Josh Johnson made three steals in as many plays and followed with some strong finishes at the basket. Jake Notice then hit a 3 to level the scores, 29-29 with just 30 seconds remaining.
The spell was broken with just 1.04 seconds on the clock when a dagger of a 3-pointer from Faaris Mughal regained the lead for Teesside in emphatic fashion, providing a confidence boost heading into half time 29-32 ahead.
Lions produced a strong defensive display for the majority of the game. This was a weakness identified in the Titans loss and a pleasing improvement against Bristol.
The solid defence created good opportunities on offence and while shooting percentages, especially from the perimeter could be improved, the team was producing good offence to find the right shots.
Crucially there were multiple players involved in scoring which made it difficult for the hosts to contain. Aaron Maxwell hit 10pts in the final quarter to see out the 14pt win.
Bristol Flyers II 67-71 Teesside Lions
The next day saw the Lions visit BBL outfit Bristol Flyers to play the reserve team of their professional organisation.
The defensive focus at training last week was evident as the Lions dominated the opening period 8-19, giving away just two open play baskets in the entire first quarter.
Tyrese Nfon & Tom Horvat were able to break the full court press of the Flyers and convert easy lay ups in the early stages. Manny Kabengele and Jamie Glen combined well in transition and Kabengele would enjoy two dunks to energise the Lions and their travelling fans.
The Flyers fought back in the second quarter, winning the period 22-17 but Lions still held a six-point lead as the teams headed to the changing rooms at half time, 30-36.
Flyers kept themselves in the game, and despite an eight-point haul from Faaris Mughal in the third quarter, the hosts would not submit and tied the game 50-50 to head into the final quarter with momentum having outscored the visitors by 11pts in the last two periods.
Teesside required a re-calibration, and Coach Serge Bojev managed to work his magic as the Lions, galvanised through a 19pt combination from Mughal & Kabengele, clipped the Flyers wings to finish the game winners by 4pts, 67-71.
Another double header this weekend will see Teesside travel to St Helens, who are currently in second place with just two losses. Lions can send a strong message of intent if they can manage to deliver a third, prior to returning to Teesside to play Durham University on Sunday in a mid-season friendly.
The Durham game is seen as an important team chemistry opportunity following the addition of three new players and will be an exciting game for the fans as Durham bring one of the best university teams to Eston Arena with a host of talented American players.
Tickets available now at TeessideLions.com