London Lions stepped up their preparations ahead of their debut campaign in Europe with a pre-season trip to France.
Last season’s double winners took on EuroLeague Women opposition with a two-game matchup with French champions Basket Landes ahead of their upcoming EuroCup Women qualifier against Gran Canaria.
The Lions are without GB star Jo Leedham-Warner – one of their blockbuster summer signings – though her absence was anticipated, while the club awaits the arrivals of returning American duo Cassie Breen and Stephanie Umeh along with Austrian forward Valentina Klocker. However, they are expected next week following delays caused with obtaining visas.
Game 1 – Basket Landes 88-59 London Lions (behind closed doors)
The short-handed Lions suffered a 29-point loss in their opening pre-season game against tough opposition in Landes. Kennedy Leonard top scored with 19 points as one of just five senior players suiting up with Azania Stewart and Leah McDerment sitting out the contest ahead of the second game.
Holly Winterburn made a club debut with 10 points with Shanice Beckford-Norton also reaching double figures, while academy players Fatmata Janneh and Nicholle Lavinier saw minutes off the bench.
Leonard hit back-to-back triples to end the first with Lions trailing 15-12, but Landes pulled away in the second as they opened up a 44-23 advantage at the half. London increased their scoring output as a competitive second half ensued, despite being short on numbers.
“I’m very happy with the first game,” head coach Mark Clark told Hoopsfix. “This is why we came to set the benchmark. But, it’s only worthwhile if we get better tomorrow [in practice] and better again on Saturday.”
Scorers: Leonard – 19 points; Winterburn/Beckford-Norton 10; Chantel Charles/Paige Robinson 9; Janneh 2
Game 2 – Basket Landes 76-62 London Lions
The Lions produced an improved display in their second clash with French champions Basket Landes as they eventually fell to a 14-point loss in front of fans. Winterburn led the visitors with 20 points as they were again without six senior players with Stewart and McDerment sitting out as well as the four players not with the team.
“It was a very productive two games in four days for us,” Clark commented. “We wanted a benchmark and we definitely got that. Landes were great hosts and our challenge is to practice and prepare at this level.”
Scorers: Winterburn – 20 points; Leonard 13; Beckford-Norton 12; Charles 8; Robinson 5; Janneh 4
Brad has been a writer for Hoopsfix since 2014 and has also had freelance roles at the BBL and with FIBA – working at two Women’s EuroBasket tournaments. Contact: [email protected]