Looking for revenge from the Playoff Semi Final defeat last season, your Radison Red Glasgow Rocks made the journey south to open the BBL season against auld rivals, London Lions.
Coming into the game, the two teams have two very different roster stories. London Lions managed to keep a large majority of their core only adding 3 new players, who will be able to contribute right away, with Jordan Spencer being the big name signing. However, Rocks featured a very different squad to that of the Playoff Semi-Finals last season with six new signings, a complete roster overhaul with only the Scottish core remaining.
Things got off to a poor start for the Rocks as LaDarius Tabb opened his Lions account early, spinning his defender to get London off the mark for the game. Rocks were unable to respond as there was a copper lid on the Box’s baskets. Things got even worse as Tabb converted on a circus shot and-one that was followed by an offensive foul on Captain Achara, some early season woes for Glasgow.
Ali Fraser was trying his hardest inside the key, going to work on his defenders, kicking it out to the open men on the perimeter. However, nothing would go Glasgow’s way as no shots were falling. London’s Tabb was causing all sorts of issues on the Rocks’ defence, cutting to the basket for easy baskets, forcing Head Coach Darryl Wood into an early timeout with over 3 minutes remaining – trailing 16-6.
Greg Pryor hit a deep corner 3 and followed it up with a fast break layup as Rocks managed to halt the London momentum, closing out the first quarter trailing 18-15.
London Lion’s youngster Johnathan James hit back to back 3’s as the Glasgow defence failed to close out, to start the 2ndperiod. It all kicked off as Jonny Bunyan drew an Unsportsmanlike foul from London’s big man, Flo Larkai, garnering a strong reaction from the crowd.
The momentum had certainly changed as Bouna Ndiaye stepped up to the line for 2 freethrows and claimed a lead for the Rocks.
A sad moment for London, as marquee signing and academy product, Jordan Spencer, went down with an apparent back injury.
The game was close as each team traded buckets, with London always answering to keep their one point lead. Reigning MVP, Justin Robinson showed the crowd why he is the best of the best as he pulled the Lions out to a 7 point lead, with some flashy fadeaways. Robinson’s performance added with Rocks’ defence opening up, Lions led your Rocks at the half, 40-31.
Ali Fraser showed some flashy handles as he blew past his defender and finished off the move with a no look pass to Captain Kieron for an easy 2, to start the second half. Despite this excellent effort on the offensive end, the Rocks lacked intensity rebounding the ball as Lions’ undersized guards even managed to snag some offensive boards.
Turnovers were a real issue for our guys down south, as a simple inbounds pass turned into an open layup for London’s Robinson. The wheels fell off for the Scottish side, forcing Coach Wood into another time out to try and fix things, as his men trailed 56-42.
MVP Robinson was money from behind the arc, as he held the slight Glasgow comeback at bay. This didn’t help Coach Wood’s frustrations as he was given a technical foul from the referees for venting his feelings. Things were as bad as they could get at the end of the 3rdas Joe Ikhinmwin was fouled shooting a 3 with 00:01 left on the clock. Veteran Gareth Murray was also hit with a tech to give London 4 freethrows to end the penultimate period as Glasgow trailed 71-47.
3’s were raining in the Box, to start the 4th, as London hit 2 while Bunyan responded with one of his own to get his name on the scoresheet. Everything was cash for the London side, no matter how much Rocks smothered the shooter, everything went in.
LaDarius “Ludicrous” Tabb was a real issue for the Glasgow defence as he tore them apart, attacking the basket. Sending the crowd wild, Tabb smashed home a fast break dunk that summed up the 4thquarter, everything going Lions’ way. Bunyan, however, was having none of it as he hit multiple threes to keep the Rocks’ scoreboard ticking over, putting on a clinic.
Credit to our Rocks who fought hard to the final buzzer, despite being handed a disheartening opening night loss, 100-66.