(Featured image by CarolJMoir)
The Glasgow Rocks host the London Lions with a 21 point deficit to overhaul following Friday night’s 91-70 loss at the Copper Box.
The Lions head to Glasgow with a 21 point lead, following the big win on Friday, but it didn’t always look as comfortable for the capital’s club. The Rocks started the contest poorly and were down by 16 points at the end of the first, but took a one-point lead into halftime after an excellent second quarter performance. The Lions tightened up on defence, stopped giving up the open corner threes and made their own shots, with Kai Williams scoring 27 points, draining 7 of 10 three-point shots.
The Lions dominated in most statistical categories, and it showed on the floor. The Lions shot the ball better, made more assists, grabbed 14 more rebounds, scored more points in the paint, scored more points on turnovers and crucially, gave up fewer turnovers. From a numbers point of view, the Lions had an excellent game and as Pat Beverly famously said, “men lie, women lie, but the numbers don’t.”
The Rocks, did a good job Friday to keep the scoring and effectiveness of Navid Niktash to a minimum in the first half. Glasgow will need to set out from the first minute to stop Niktash from getting into his offence and defensive stride. Niktash scored 19 valuable points, but it was his defensive work and his tenacious rebounding that stood out in the second half on Friday, as the battle was won on the glass.
Glasgow will need to find a way of getting Keiron Achara into the game on tonight, as he was held to just 11 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist by Rashad Hassan on Friday. Achara is a big piece of the Rocks offensive scheme and their reliance on the 3 point shot to compensate ultimately lead to them losing the first leg.
The Lions know all too well, however, how quickly a promising lead can be lost against the Rocks, as they have seen twice this week. The Rocks are a strong team at home with a passionate fanbase, and beat the Lions at home last weekend, coming from 20 points back to win it in the final quarter, limiting the Lions to a measly 9 points in the process.
Kai Williams was the key man Friday night, and the Lions will be hoping for more of the same from the veteran small forward. Williams was able to get great opportunities and score valuable points, thanks in part to the performance of Zaire “Runaway Train” Taylor. Taylor started the game like a house on fire, drawing attention in the paint, leaving Williams more open than usual to hit from outside.
The key to victory for the London Lions will lie in finding a way to limit the offensive scoring of Hayden Lescault who went 9-18 scoring 27 points and was played a huge part in the Lions being down at the half. The Lions, and in particular Andre Lockhart, were able to lock down Lescault and limit him to 9 points in the second half, which put the breaks on the Rocks offence, something they will hope to replicate from the start.
The Rocks will need to lock down Taylor and get Hassan into foul trouble if they hope to win tonight. Both sides can trade big scorelines, but with Glasgow entering down 21 they will need to break the will of the Lions early with a big scoring run. The Rocks must find a way to get Achara and Murray into the game and keep the corner threes coming if they want to progress. The Lions, know they are one good, disciplined, performance away from the semi-finals, as long as they can prevent the Rocks going on big runs.
This will be a closely fought encounter, and even with the 21 point lead to the Lions, it is still too close to call.