|Teesside Lions Men
LIONS CLAW BACK TO BREAK ARROWS AIM
Teesside Lions Men
Saturday 27th January|
By Jordan Clarke
The Lions travelled to fourth placed Derbyshire Arrows on Saturday in a must-win game to get back on track with the playoff push.
It was the hosts however, who got off to an electric start at both ends of the court. A huge first quarter from the Arrows’ leading scorer Hamza Ibrahim helped his side to a 30-11 lead, giving the Lions a huge mountain to climb early on. Coach Bojev was not happy with the defensive performance but later conceded that regardless of the defensive effort, Derbyshire simply could not miss.
Teesside needed an answer quickly, and they found a spark with Emmanuel Kabengele and Tom Horvat who led the comeback and a 25pt haul.
The Lions defence was also upgraded and there was a real sense of purpose and team desire to restrict the hosts to just 13pts, closing the gap at half time to just 7pts, 43-36.
Teesside forward Emmanuel Kabengele remained hot after the interval, and his 11-point third quarter inspired the Lions to tie the game 61-61, heading into the final quarter. Momentum was now firmly with the visitors, but Teesside had to maintain composure and focus to ensure the Arrows could not repeat their first period heroics.
Teesside Head Coach Serge Bojev had not been happy with his team’s defence in recent games, and although injuries have disrupted chemistry, there has been a willing at training to put this right.
After a first quarter that, on paper, looked like a repeat of previous game’s fragilities the team galvanised to overcome the challenge. It must be noted that Arrows were on fire in the first period and this reflected great offence as opposed to poor defence, but with the priorities placed upon themselves, Teesside could have easily crumbled.
Instead they held Derbyshire to 13pts in the second quarter, 18pts in the third, and allowing them just 9pts in the final quarter to claw back a 21pt deficit to win the game by 5pts.
While the team performance was impressive, there were two players in particular that stood out with a near triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds & 7 assists from Tom Horvat to place his hand firmly in the air for the game MVP.
The MVP award however was awarded to Emmanuel Kabengele who hit 23 points & 12 rebounds, but significantly once again delivered crucial results in crucial moments to propel Lions over the line.
Teesside Head Coach Serge Bojev was pleased with the important victory, adding:
“What a win. What a great win in difficult circumstances. Derbyshire could not miss in the first quarter. They were 60% from 3-pointers and we were not playing bad.
“To come back from this start shows the character of Teesside Lions and I believe this could be a turning of the corner for us.
“The players should be very proud of themselves, but we need to maintain standards and mindset. We have two more games this weekend.”
Teesside travel to bottom placed Doncaster Eagles on Saturday in what is a potential banana peel with The Eagles signing several new players over Christmas to invigorate their squad. Once newcomer and player to watch is David Watts who hit 41pts & 12 rebounds at Worcester Wolves.
Lions then return home to Teesside to entertain Leicester Warriors on Sunday 4th February with all the excitement already building for what could be a pivotal weekend.
Supporters can get their tickets now at Teessidelions.com