MK LIONS lost 76-80 to Team USA in their third and final pre-season game before the start of the new British Basketball League season on Friday night.
A crowd of more than 900 turned out to see Lions’ top stars in action for the first time after teams of mainly youngsters played in their first two friendly outings.
Still awaiting Howard Crawford and Daniel Northern and without the injured Carl Josey, the hosts started like a house on fire at the MK Lions Arena.
Back to back steals from Stefan Gill and one from Demarius Bolds were the first scores of the game. Bolds in particular was scintillating in the first quarter as he caused problems all over the court on his first appearances back at the club. After four minutes all Lions starters were on the scoresheet before a monster slam from Adrien Sturt ended the quarter with the Lions 33-19 to the good.
The second quarter saw 17 year-old’s Jordan Spencer and Chris Taiwah take to the floor as they contributed. USA fought back and closed the deficit before two more alley-oop slams from Sturt on assists from Bolds and Ishmael Fontaine restored some calm. However, the visitors closed to 10 points at the half.
The third quarter ebbed and flowed and it was in this period that Isiah Hunter from USA found his flow and posed a big problem for the home side. Nathan Schall kept the scoreboard moving for Lions whilst Nuno Pedroso’s three also contributed as Lions led 62-52.
Tiring in the fourth, Lions began committing turnovers, while 14 points from deep shooting Jimmy Langhurst allowed USA to nip in front.
Hunter was quietened by Bolds, but Caleb Simons chipped in with six crucial points for the tourist who kept their noses just ahead going into the closing stages and held on for the win.
Lions chief executive Vince Macaulay said: “We were probably playing at about 60 per cent of what we will come the first game of the season.
“This was probably the best touring Team USA side to come here so far but we gave them a good game – despite some of our players being short of full fitness and Bolds only just getting off the plane before the game.
“There’s a real feel-good factor about the place right now and we think we’ve got a great team for this season.”