Friday evening (7:45pm UK) in London, two of the British Basketball League’s top sides from 2021-22, the London Lions and the defending champion Leicester Riders, square off in an early-season clash.
How to live stream London Lions v Leicester Riders online:
Bet365* stream a selection of BBL games live for account holders. Those interested in streaming London Lions v Leicester Riders live can take advantage of this service by following the simple steps below. After following the link below, you’ll notice the landing page advertises FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying is on Bet365’s schedule, too.
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*Geo restrictions apply, 18+ only, must have a funded account or placed a bet in the last 24 hours, BeGambleAware. All odds and offers within this article are accurate at the time of writing (09:50, 29/09/22).
London Lions Team News
The Lions entered the 2021-22 BBL campaign as the BBL Trophy holders. Though there is probably some frustration at having finished as runners-up in both the BBL playoffs and the BBL Trophy, and getting eliminated from the BBL Cup at the semifinal stage, this side undoubtedly turned in another solid campaign.
It is worth noting, however, that the team’s winning percentage did slip for a second consecutive season, this time rather significantly. In 2018-19, when the Lions won the BBL Cup and posted a league-best regular season record of 27-6 (good for an 81.8% win percentage). In 2020-21 (recall that the 2019-20 season was cancelled due to COVID), they once against finished second in the regular season, with wins in 76.7% (23 of 30) of regular season games. In 2021-22, the Lions were victorious in just under 60% of their regular season games.
That 16-11 record, however, was good enough to net them the league’s third-best regular season record, and set them up for a run to the playoff final, where they fell by just three points to their Friday night opponents. The Lions also nearly defended their BBL Trophy but, again, fell in the final to the Cheshire Phoenix by a score of 82-68.
The Lions are one of seven teams to have already tipped off their 2022-23 BBL season. They remain one of three teams yet to taste defeat and, by virtue of a superior point difference in their victory over the Sheffield Sharks on September 23 (86-73), sit, for the moment, ‘atop the table’.
The Lions return the core of last season’s solid side, most significantly frontcourt stars and former NBAers Sam Dekker and Kosta Koufos, who powered the team’s season-opening win with a combined 41 points and 12 rebounds. Also contributing was veteran wing Ovie Soko, who chipped in five points, five rebounds and five assists, as well as newcomer (from the Polish league) and former University of Stanford big man Josh Sharma, who had eight points and seven rebounds in his Lions debut.
Leicester Riders Team News
In a number of ways the Leicester Riders’ 2021-22 season, though more successful than that of the Lions, was only thus by the finest of margins.
After all, London finished just two spots behind Leicester in the league table, and the Riders only emerged victorious from their playoff final against London thanks to a comeback that turned an eight-point post-third quarter deficit into a three-point win. And, Leicester actually finished second in the South Group of the BBL Cup, at 6-2, a game behind the Lions, and didn’t exactly dominate the early knockout stages, getting their three quarterfinal and semifinal (two legs) wins over Cheshire and, again, London, by a combined nine points.
Sounds like a neck-and-neck race, huh? Not so fast…
Though Leicester had some very close calls, to actually make the argument that their season ‘only differed slightly’ from London’s (or anyone else’s) would be to ignore the Riders hilarious level of dominance in the regular season, where they finished eight games clear of the second-placed Sharks, with a regular season record of 25-2! What’s more, in those 27 games, the Riders outscored their opponents by a total of 524 points, or an average of 19.4 per game. For context, the Lions’ second-best point differential was +111, and the Bristol Flyers in third, were at +88. No other team posted a point differential of +50.
And yes, Leicester did need a dramatic comeback against the Lions to pull out the BBL playoff final win, but they’d previously carried their regular season dominance into the playoffs, downing Plymouth City by 16 points over two games in the quarterfinals, and then hammering Glasgow’s Caledonia Gladiators by a combined 47 points over two semifinal contests.
And sure, the Riders were shockingly eliminated in the first round of the BBL Trophy and has to sweat a bit en route to the BBL Cup final, but once they got there, they cruised past the Manchester Giants, 83-69.
As the Riders have yet to tip off their BBL season, the team’s 2022 23 campaign thus far consists of a single European Champions League qualification game – a nine-point loss to Romanian side Voluntari – played on September 21.
The Riders also return a strong, experienced corps this season, led by point guard Conor Washington, 2021–22 BBL Team of the Year members Darien Nelson-Henry and Patrick Whelan, with the veteran big man duo of Maurice Walker and Mark Loving and the young backcourt duo of Zach Jackson and CJ Jackson also on hand.
Unfortunately, however, the team is now without its onetime superstar Geno Crandall. The two-time BBL Most Valuable Player and 2022’s playoff and BBL Cup MVP, who signed with BG Göttingen of the German Bundesliga this offseason leaves a massive hole in his wake. Though there is certainly still plenty of talent on hand, it would not be surprising if the Riders needs some time to find their stride this season.