THE London Lions, formerly MK Lions, will play their first competitive home game since leaving the city on Sunday when they take on Newcastle Eagles at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
The club’s 14-year spell in Milton Keynes came to an end in July when chief executive Vince Macaulay accepted a move to play at the Olympic Park after failing to secure a permanent home in the city.
Lions will move into the Copper Box arena for the start of the 2013/14 season, but before then they will play their home matches in Crystal Palace – starting with the visit of the British Basketball League champions on Sunday. That comes after their first away game at Manchester Giants on Friday night.
The new-look Lions hammered Team USA 108-66 in their first ever game under the London name earlier this month, with around 80 fans from Milton Keynes making the trip to support the team.
Macaulay said: “It’s going to be a strange occasion, but we’re very excited and looking forward to it. The supporters who came down from MK were fantastic and we had more than 300 people turn out, which for a friendly game was pretty good.”
Four former Milton Keynes-based players will take to the court for the team again this season, and the attraction of playing at the Olympic Park from next year has seen Macaulay build a useful looking team in just five weeks.
“We have a predominately English squad and I think we’ll be very competitive,” said Macaulay, who still lives in MK but travels to south London several times a week to coach the team. “Out of all the BBL teams who played the touring USA side, we beat them by the most points.
“It’s going to be very different playing away from Milton Keynes, but we know London is our base now and we’re making the best of it. We’ve had good support in Crystal Palace and we’re looking forward to a good season.”