London Lions 90 – 66 Glasgow Rocks
By Alan Caldwell
The Rocks took on the London Lions in the first leg of the BBL Trophy semi-finals down at the Copper box in London. The Rocks coming off a tough defeat just last night against the Surrey Scorchers will be looking to put that one behind them as arguably the biggest game of the season commenced.
The Lions who are a tough team, currently sitting 4th in the BBL standings will pose a big threat to the Rocks, especially Dirk Williams, the shooting guard is eighth in league scoring this year averaging an excellent 16.5 points per game, whilst his teammate and former NBA player DeAndre Liggins is third in league assists, averaging 7.1 a night, these are two of the main threats the Rocks will be looking to nullify.
Rocks guard, Christian Keeling has been in hot scoring form himself recently, whilst the team has been struggling to secure wins, Keeling has been putting up an impressive 14.8 points per game over his last five, as he looks to continue being a scoring threat in his first year coming from the University of North Carolina.
The semi-final started with a frantic pace which saw both teams turn the ball over early on in the game, before Robinson got the first points of the day for the Lions with a three, followed by a short hook shout by Delph to get the Rocks on the board for the game.
Midway through the first quarter saw the Lions have an early 9-5 lead as the baskets slowed down for both teams in this quarter. Both teams trying to stamp their authority on the game, DeAndre Liggins lead a fast break away for the Lions before making a nice assist to Parker who finished the layup for 2 points, but the Rocks came right back up the court with a possession that saw Gareth Murray hit a deep three with the shot clock running out.
The first quarter continued to excite as Jonny Bunyan found his shot from the outside hitting two big three pointers, however, his point guard in the opposite team had similar ideas as Liggins also hit two three pointers either side of Bunyan’s to cancel them out.
The first quarter ended with a 23-14 lead to the lions but six early points from Bunyan and Delph, Murray and Van Sauers all getting on the board gave the Rocks early confidence in this one.
Similar to last nights game the Rocks made a sluggish start to the first half of the second quarter, where turned the ball over four times from bad passes in the first four minutes of the quarter, which lead to easy dunks for the Lions.
The first four minutes of this quarter also saw the points slow down for the Rocks having just scored four points in this spell from a nice dunk by the seven foot tall Delph and a driving layup by Isa Brandon coming off the bench as the teams sixth man.
The Lions went on a 14-4 run to open the second quarter up and give them the biggest lead on the day so far as they went up 37-18, before Christian Keeling made a nice three and pass to Jacdonmi who made one of two free throws after getting fouled going to the basket.
The second half of the quarter saw the Rocks pick up their scoring with Brandon adding some energy offensively he got a quick steal and added 5 points from the bench.
Despite this, going into the interval the Lions had a 44-28 lead which saw them score 10 more bench points than the Rocks and have considerably more field goal attempts in the first two quarters thanks to their offensive rebounds giving them second chance points, Glasgow shot 10/28 in the first half (35%), where as the Lions shot 16/40 (40%).
Leading the scoring charts at half time were London guards, Justin Robinson with 11 points and DeAndre Liggins with 10. No player had made it to double digit scoring on the day for the Rocks yet, who’ll look to cut into the 16 point deficit in the second half, in hope to get it down to single digits with the second leg of the semi-final in mind, which will be played on Wednesday at the Emirates Arena.
The third quarter started off with a nice layup from Delph and a quick five points Keeling which saw him hit a three pointer, however, the London Lions still had a reply to each Glasgow basket with Liggins continuing to have a good game, as he hit his third three of the night.
Looking to cut into London’s lead the first half of the third quarter brought much better scoring form from the Rocks as Murray banked in his second three of the game followed by a quick turnaround jumper from Delph.
The third quarter also brought the Rocks a much better display offensively to open up the second half, both teams putting up 18 points apiece. Despite this, the Lions went into the fourth quarter up 62-46, still having that 16 point lead they built up in the first half.
The fourth quarter started off with another three from Jonny Bunyan which gave him 9 points on the night after hitting his first two threes in the first half, but again it was Liggins who answered right back for the Lions as he hit another three giving him a game high 20 points on the night.
With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter of the first leg of the semi-finals, the deficit for the Rocks was now 19 points which was the biggest lead of the night, as their best hope was now to cut this deficit down to single digits and get ready for the second leg at home which would still give them a chance of going through to the final.
Still hustling right to the last minute Bunyan hits his fourth three pointer of the day but again incredibly it is Liggins who answers straight back with another three of his own.
The fourth quarter finished with another late flurry from the Lions which saw them go on a 15-6 run to end the game and win this one 90-66, on a game high 28 points from Liggins followed by two other Lions in double digit scoring.
Delph lead the scoring tonight for the Rocks as he finished the game with 16 points and 8 rebounds getting close to another double double this season, two other Rocks players got to double digit scoring as Keeling and Bunyan both finished with 12, however, it wasn’t enough today as the Rocks will need to pick themselves back up and get ready for the second leg of the semi-final where a big comeback is needed at home on Wednesday night.
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