ALL the mind games seemed to pay off for Lions as they beat rivals Leicester Riders in front of a vocal MK Arena crowd last Friday.
Mike New’s men needed to overturn an eight point deficit after their 81-73 defeat a week previous, and put in their best performance of the new season as they beat Riders 107-90.
Vince Macauley’s cutting comments earlier in the week, calling Riders the Milton Keynes ‘B’ squad, were posted up on the dressing room walls to inspire Leicester to victory, but in fact seemed to spur Lions on.
From the moment Demarius Bolds swept to the basket for two followed by a rising slam from Daniel Northern and the first of six three pointers from Stefan Gill there was only ever going to be one winner as the Riders wilted in the face of the onslaught.
With all Lions starters scoring in the first quarter and Bolds shackling Riders threat, Bradd Wierzbicki, Coach Paternostro’s men had nowhere to hide. Lions big men dominated completely under the basket helping their side on the way to a 32 rebound advantage over the Riders, initiated by a 19 point rebound performance from Northern.
The home fans chanted loud and proud as the first quarter ended 27-12, the visitors only connecting on three field goals.
The second quarter saw Nathan Schall hit two baskets as the Lions continued where they had left off. This time Riders were able to find some responses as Howard Crawford fell foul of the referee’s and sat down on three fouls. Frank Holmes led the charge for the Riders but the home side would not take a backward step as further three pointers from Gill and a hot spell from Adrien Sturt saw the Lions push on. Nuno Pedroso hit the half’s last points ensuring a 57-40 lead for his side.
The third quarter was the lowest scoring as the Riders tried to get back in, but Coach Mike New’s men continued to dictate the pace, Sturt opening the scoring then hitting a three. Flinder Boyd and Cameron Rundle’s responded in kind before Bolds restored order and saw his side safely to a 75-59 score at the end of three with a barnstorming fourth in prospect.
Northern stamped his authority all over the fourth with nine points as the Lions matched the Riders efforts to come back.
As the visitors hit six three-pointers in the quarter the Lions simply responded every time.
Crawford swivelled for two inside before Schall hit another thunderous dunk. It was left to Ishmael Fontaine and Gill to see the game out and despite two late technicals on the Lions the home side cruised to the victory and top spot in Group 3 of the BBL Trophy.
Their final group game is on Sunday at the Lions Arena as they take on London Leopards, who are yet to play a game in the competition this season. Tip off at Winterhill is at 5pm. Buy tickets from www.mklions.com