MERSEY Tigers may be sitting at the top of the British Basketball League Championship table, but even they were no match for a born again MK Lions side who firmly got their season back on track over the last seven days.
Mike New’s men recorded back to back wins for the first time this season at the end of January, and picked up where they left off last Thursday with their second win of the season over Tigers. And two days later Lions edged past Worthing Thunder to win on the road for a second time this term, making it four wins in four for a fast improving city side.
Tigers are now made to share top spot with Glasgow Rocks and Newcastle Eagles - and they have Lions to thank for that. The sides have met three times this season, and although Tigers won their tie in Liverpool, Lions have seen off the BBL’s big boys twice on home soil - the latest a 97-95 success at their Winterhill home.
And most significantly for New is the fact that Lions were able to build on that result and win away at Thunder just 48 hours later on Sunday. The side remain stuck in 10th place in the table, but with a bit of form now behind them, the only way looks to be up for Lions.
After a slow start by both sides in Worthing, a 13-4 burst from the home side gave them a 15-6 lead, but Lions kept themselves right in the game as they netted 16 of the last 26 points of the opening quarter to close the gap to 25-23.
In the second period Lions took the lead early and led by as many as seven points at 29-36, but a 9-2 tear to close out the first half saw Thunder take a slender one-point advantage into the locker rooms, leading 52-51 at the half.
In the second half both sides traded baskets throughout the majority of the third period, but a 9-0 Thunder run took the score to 71-61 midway through the period.
But Lions broke the game open thanks to a 33-8 burst across the final quarter break to lead 79-94 midway through the last session, with sublime skill from Demarius Bolds and dead eye shooting from Yorick Williams.
Thunder were not to be outdone though as they stepped up their intensity at both ends of the floor again, and it paid huge dividends thanks to a 14-2 burst to narrow the gap down to just three points at 93-96.
Baskets were traded before a three-pointer got the home side to within a single point at 101-102, but Travis Nelson kept Lions in front before Shaun Durant tied the game at 104-104. Nelson and Durant traded further baskets to take the score to 106-106 with 14 seconds remaining.
Both sides had opportunities to win the game, but it was Shawn Myers who sent the visitors into the lead with 3.5 seconds left on the clock, bagging the last two of his 35-point leading tally to give Lions another morale-boosting win.
Myers has been leading the way in Lions’ recent revival and also top scored for his side with 22 in their win of Tigers, followed by Bolds (21) and Nelson (17).
Lions will need him at his best again on Friday when Plymouth Raiders visit Winterhill on Friday and New’s men head to basement side Essex Pirates on Saturday.