Lions fall short away to Buducnost despite Dekker heroics
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 78 – 68 London Lions (13-7, 24-19, 17-18, 24-24)
(Buducnost – Green 16, Bell-Haynes 14, Reynolds 11; Lions – Dekker 27, Soko 11, Hruban 8)
London Lions were faced with a quick turnaround following their BBL Cup triumph over the weekend, as they had to travel to Montenegro to face Buducnost VOLI Podgorica in round 13 of the 7DAYS EuroCup.
Sam Dekker’s heroics with 27 points and eight assists however, were not enough to secure Lions the victory, falling short 78-68.
Erick Green led Buducnost with 16 points, closely followed by Trae Bell-Haynes with 14.
The game started with each team’s defence firmly on top, but in what can only be described as a defensive masterclass.
Both sides were forced into very tough shots and could not seem to convert, with the score just 10-3 after six-and-a-half minutes played.
The rest of the first quarter continued at this pace, but Edin Atic sparked the crowd when he missed his second free throw but managed to grab his offensive rebound and score the putback to close out the first 10 minutes of play 13-7.
Each team averages around 79 points per game, which shows how the first period could be considered an anomaly.
In the second quarter things changed, with Buducnost coming out of the gates flying and scoring on their first possession, when Alpha Kaba found a cutting Atic who laid the ball in for an easy two.
The Lions were also much better offensively at the start of the second, with Kosta Koufos capping off a 6-0 run with a finger roll and bringing his team to within two points (15-13).
That’s when the momentum swung in favour of the home side once more, with Buducnost going on an 8-2 run, after Erick Green intercepted the pass from Luke Nelson and passed ahead to Cameron Reynolds, who finished in transition (23-15).
The Montenegrin side got their first double digit lead of the game when Green managed to score a tough floater with the defender hanging off him, making it a 10-point game (29-19).
The American guard brought his team’s lead to its highest margin when he converted 2/3 free throws with 10 seconds left until the half (37-23).
With the two teams not managing to score from downtown and London looking like they were going to head to the locker rooms down by 14, up stepped Sam Dekker.
He drained a long-range triple at the buzzer, closing the gap to 11 (37-26) at the end of the first half.
The former NBAer was the game’s top scorer in the first 20 mins – scoring 14 out of his team’s 26 points.
London came out in the second half all guns blazing, with clear instructions to up their intensity and try to close the gap.
That started with Aaron Best, who brought the gap down to single digits following a eurostep (41-32).
London’s Josh Sharma provided the top two highlights of the game, with two consecutive monster dunks.
The second one in particular was a beautiful play – with Best stealing, Jordan Taylor running the floor, before dishing it behind his back for a trailing Sharma, who dunked it with authority to decrease the deficit to five (43-38), forcing Podgorica‘s Coach Jovanovic into a time-out.
Jordan then converted 1/2 free throws and brought the Lions’ run to 7-0 – simultaneously bringing the difference down to just four points – which was the smallest difference since the first quarter.
Just when it looked like the British side was going to complete the comeback, up stepped Marko Jagodic-Kuridza, scoring his team’s first triple – after 27 minutes of play – to increase their lead to seven (46-39).
Sharma kept the energy up on both ends of the floor, blocking Kenan Kamenjas, before Vojtech Hruban rushed down the court and scored a tough and-one (46-42).
A difficult fadeaway three at the end of the 24-second shot clock by Buducnost’s Bell-Haynes, coupled by a second from Jagodic-Kuridza, undid all of London’s hard work and made it into a double-digit game once again (54-44).
The men’s BBL leaders knew that they had to perform at their best if they were to turn it around in the final 10 minutes and they seemed to be off to a good start when Dekker crossed his defender and then put him on a poster (54-46).
A tough and-one by Green, however, quickly gave Buducnost a commanding 13-point lead (59-46), with the Lions struggling to really bring it down enough to cause the home side serious issues.
A steal by Ovie Soko with just over three minutes left to play, led to a three-pointer by Best on the transition and brought the difference down to seven (69-62), giving London some hope that they could maybe come away with a win.
Any hope of that was dashed when sharpshooter Green scored from downtown with 90 seconds left (74-63).
With this result the London Lions move to a record of 5-8 and are still within the playoff spots, while Buducnost are three wins ahead of them on 8-5.
The Lions will look to go back to winning ways in Europe next Wednesday (February 8) when they welcome the Hamburg Towers to the Copper Box.
To get tickets and secure your spot, click HERE.