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  • Samad Sagir

Lions King or Phoenix from the Ashes: BBL Playoff Crown on the Line

The stage is set for the BBL playoff final 2024 at the O2 Arena, London on Sunday 19th May 2024 where the Cheshire Phoenix will clash with the London Lions. 

The Lions led the BBL this season, finishing with an impressive 33-3 record at the top of the league with Cheshire finishing in second place at 23-13. These two teams have met multiple times in the season beginning in October where the Phoenix lost out 91-82 at home following a 33-point outburst by Lions starlet Matthew Morgan despite a valiant effort from Phoenix newcomer, Aaryn Rai who dropped 20 in the loss. Two weeks following the loss they met again where the Lions won again, 99-80.

Image Credit: British Basketball League

The sides met again in December at the Copper box in London where the Lions again asserted their dominance of Cheshire, winning 102-95 again with Matthew Morgan again leading the way with 28 points and supported by veteran, Sam Dekker with 22 points. With Cheshire being down 0-3 in their regular season head-to-head, you would be forgiven for thinking that any other future meetings between the two would only end one way.

Fast forward to January 28th where they met again in the BBL trophy final. Cheshire produced an unlikely upset win, 98-82, to lift the silverware in Birmingham despite their previous skirmishes in the league. Cheshire shot 46% from the floor, and 39% from beyond the arc. They made a tough defensive stand, with David Nwaba being the Lions highest scorer with 18. The Phoenix meanwhile had six players in double figures for the game, led by MVP Laquincy Rideau with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Image Credit: British Basketball League

The two teams had their final regular season matchup in April, with the Lions keen to avenge their BBL trophy Final loss. Led by Morgan and Dekker with 30 and 20 points respectively, the Lions left no doubt, winning 105-92. Sealing the 100% win percentage vs Cheshire for the year, winning all four of their regular season meetings.

Both teams fought hard during these playoffs. The Lions defeating Surrey and Newcastle in the quarters and semis, sweeping both series to take their spot in the Final. Cheshire showed they’re the real deal also, completing the first-round sweep against the Bristol Flyers before defeating Sheffield 2 games to zero to set up this showdown against London at the O2.

Tip-off is at 4:15pm, with both teams set to produce some of the best Basketball we have seen this year.

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