The London Lions are the 2019 BBL Cup Champions after defeating the Radisson Red Glasgow Rocks 68-54 in Arena Birmingham on Sunday.
The London Lions made a strong start to the final with the frontcourt connection of Brandon Peel and Ladarius Tabb finding the chemistry that has made them one of the most fearsome duos in the country.
Tabb opened the scoring with two early buckets assisted by Peel, and Peel would turn scorer adding four of his own before the quarter was out.
Glasgow, coming off a great win over Leicester Riders on Friday night, shared their points, but struggled to get into a rhythm with the Lions pressing them relentlessly.
The highlight of the quarter was a three-pointer from Andre Lockhart off a skip pass assist from League MVP Justin Robinson as Robinson drove to the basket.
The Lions added to their 15-10 lead early in the second quarter through Brandon Peel, who showed off why some pundits have him in the MVP conversation for this season, driving to the basket and playing through contact to touch in off the glass.
The Rocks kept touch with the Lions throughout the quarter, forcing two cheap turnovers, but they were unable to fully capitalise on them. The Birmingham crowd was very pro-London throughout the quarter, the boos rang out when Rocks Captain Kieron Achara was at the line shooting free throws but when he later drained a three-pointer in Peel’s face it was wildly applauded.
Brandon Peel was at times unplayable as he scored the final five points of the half, his strength and cuts along the baseline proving the difference. as the Lions took a 30-20 lead into the break.
The Rocks had a good spell early in the third quarter with back to back buckets from Ndiaye and a three from Achara but that would be as good as it got in the quarter as the Lions stepped it up once again on defence and pushed the tempo on offence. The Lions were able to stretch their lead utilising the size and experience of Kervin Bristol who quietly pushed his total points for the game into double digits.
Peel finished the third quarter off with six points as he upped his total on the game to 21 to help the Lions extend their lead to 13 with just ten minutes to play. The Rocks were beginning to lose touch but a late three-pointer from Carpenter kept them within touching distance.
Bo Zeigler had back to back baskets followed up by a Kenny Carpenter effort to cut the deficit to seven points but the Lions would stem the flow with three points of their own, a two from Tabb and a free throw from Paul Guede would settle the Lions down and restore a double-digit lead with 5:39 left in the game.
The Lions extended their lead to 12 and effectively throttled the tie for the remainder of the contest. Kervin Bristol landed awkwardly late in the game, seeming to jar his left leg but played on with little ill effect. Andre Lockhart demonstrated just what he brings to the Lions late in the game with an excellent defensive stop on Achara pressuring the former GB captain into an offensive foul.
The Lions bench was on their feet celebrating the victory during the final minute of action as the sides traded buckets on the floor, it didn’t matter to the Lions, they were BBL Cup Champions.
The Lions played an excellent game and were worthy champions outplaying the Rocks and respecting the competition and their opponents by playing till the final buzzer.
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Featured image credit: London Lions and Carol Moir