|Teesside Lions Men
MUGHALS THIRTEEN THREES SEND LIONS FIFTH
Teesside Lions MenV
Sunday 4th February|
By Jordan Clarke
Teesside Lions rounded off a dominant doubleheader with an emphatic victory over the Leicester Warriors, in a game where Lions required a 40+ point win to leapfrog the Warriors into fifth place.
On Saturday evening Teesside travelled to Doncaster Eagles and returned with a 40pt victory, leading comfortably throughout, and finishing 60-100. Things would only get better on Sunday.
Lions’ guards Faaris Mughal and Tom Horvat led the team with 27 points each in Doncaster, and both utilised their hot hand on Sunday too.
Points difference has been a topic of conversation throughout the club recently as the team push for a top four playoff place in a competitive league. The 5pt win over 4th placed Derbyshire Arrows last week was a significant one and a seeming turning point following a frustrating run of results affected by injuries.
Against Leicester the rejuvenated Teesside showed anything but fatigue as they scorched the first quarter 31-12. Five Lions players hit seven 3-pointers from just eight attempts to deliver a shooing clinic. American Tom Horvat, Faaris Mughal & Luke Mitchell all hit two 3’s with Aaron Maxwell connecting off the glass to shred the 2-3 zonal defence of the visitors.
Jamie Glen and Aaron Maxwell dominated the rebounding game early on and were also key players in the good ball movement that was causing problems for Leicester.
The second quarter started with the same intensity as the first as Mughal continued his jaw-dropping streak with another four 3-pointers to bring his haul to six, and by the end of the half he would have seven. The Lions bench were hyped and the crowd amazed as Mughal provided one of the best shooting performances in NBL history, and sending Teesside into a half time lead of 25pts, 58-33.
In recent games Lions would hit a sticky point in the third quarter, but the good run in the previous two games continued in this period despite the heroics of JJ Williams-Cuffard who was furrowing a lone burrow with almost half of the Warriors points thus far.
High scoring American Jaguar Jackson was contained well by Teesside, hitting just 4pts late in the half. He would hit 19pts in the second half including four 3’s in a game that delivered 29 long range baskets to wow the fans, 22 in favour of the Lions.
Horvat and Mughal were leading the way for Teesside with support from Emmanuel Kabengele adding 6pts inside the paint. In the fitth minute of the third, Thomas Wylie joined the 3-point party and by the end of the period Lions had developed a 30pt lead, 81-51, with the 40+ margin now becoming a realistic ambition.
Teesside hit a season high of 36pts in the final quarter to cross the 100pt mark and surpass the 40pt margin to leapfrog Leicester into fifth place.
There was no signs of slowing down as the Lions fans were treated to two athletic dunks from Kabengele, the second an alley-oop from an inch perfect Luke Mitchell pass, and another six 3s, including five from man of the moment Mughal.
Jamie Glen registered a double-double of 13pts & 13 rebounds with 3 assists & 2 blocks in a dominant performance. Tom Horvat produced 20pts, 7 rebounds & 8 assists. Emmanuel Kabengele had 16pts & 5 assists with 80% shooting, and Luke Mitchell delivered an incredible 13 assists & 6pts to all claim a stake for the game MVP.
The accolade however was in no doubt as an brow-raising performance from Faaris Mughal earned special recognition from all in the arena. Mughal hit 13 of 18 3’s for 73% from behind the perimeter. Prior to his last three misses he was and unbelievable 90%, and scored 43pts in just 26 minutes.
Teesside produced two 30+ point quarters and were an impressive 63% from 3-point range to win the game by 45pts and unseat Leicester in 5th place.
Teesside now prepare for the visit of Bristol Flyers II on Sunday with victory and points difference significant factors in their quest to make the top four playoff spot at the expense of Derbyshire Arrows. With two games in hand, it is all to play for.
Tickets are available at TeessideLions.com