The absence of the home side’s key centers paved the way for London’s big man to dominate.
Gabe Olaseni took advantage of Joventut’s paint woes
The London Lions celebrated an impressive 76-87 win at Joventut Badalona in Round 6 of the BKT EuroCup Regular Season after they overcame a 28-20 first-quarter deficit on the back of ironclad defense for the rest of the rip-roaring contest in Spain.
The visitors thrived on a balanced workload on offense and supremacy in the paint, where Gabe Olaseni reigned supreme amid the absence of Joventut’s injured duo of Ante Tomic and Vladimir Brodziansky. London’s big man racked up a game-high 21 points and 9 rebounds, as the visitors made their advantage in size count.
The Lions outrebounded Joventut 42-35 but more importantly, they collected an avalanche of offensive boards when the chips were down The home team failed to recover from a 15-point deficit despite a heroic effort from Andrew Andrews and Deshaun Thomas.
“When you come to a historic place like this, you want to win,” Olaseni, who earned a PIR of 30, said in a post-game interview. “The coach and his staff gave us a great game plan and we were fortunate enough to execute it.”
Olaseni’s effort was complemented by that of Matthew Morgan, who amassed 15 points and 4 assists, while Tarik Phillip racked up 13 points, 5 rebounds and as many assists. Conor Morgan added 12 points and 8 rebounds to underline Lions' depth, with Joventut overly reliant on Andrews (20 points) and Thomas (17).
Moreover, London generated a whopping 25 assists to Joventut’s 14 as the visitors shared the ball selflessly on offense, while Andrews ran out of steam in the final quarter when he tried to start and finish everything much too often.
“It’s a very big satisfaction to win here despite the injuries Joventut has had,” Lions head coach Petar Bozic said. “They are a young team unafraid to play hard. It’s a very important win for us and I want to congratulate my players for the way they controlled the game. We’ll take it one game at a time. It’s true we had high expectations coming here but we still have to improve in many ways.”
Bozic’s Joventut counterpart Carles Duran conceded his team was second-best on the night.
“Congratulations to London, they played better than us and we need to improve many things in our game,” he said.
Joventut is next at home to Group A leader Paris Basketball, which tops the section with a perfect 6-0 record, while London visits Besiktas Emlakjet Istanbul.