Olaseni Shines as Iowa Blowout London Lions at the Copper Box

Gabe Olaseni had a successful homecoming on Thursday night, helping lead his Iowa Hawkeyes to a 107-72 victory over the London Lions at the Copper Box in front of friends and family.

Despite a shaky start, missing a number of easy buckets under the rim, the 6’10” London native eventually settled down, finding his touch to finish with 14 points, including a couple of monstrous dunks, as the Hawkeyes beat the Lions for the second consecutive day.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Olaseni after the game. “Never did I think when I signed to Iowa I’d be able to come back to London and play in front of my family and friends. Back a month ago, I didn’t really believe the trip would happen, obviously it was going to happen, but it didn’t seem real.

“Coming here today, seeing people from my secondary school, all the club teams I played on here, it’s just an unbelievable experience. I’m just happy we came here, we came out the ‘w’, the team chemistry is great, we made a few mistakes but overall I think it’s a good growing experience for us.”

The Lions fielded a number of younger British guys, including Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who was their standout performer, and the likes of Jordan Spencer, Levi Noel, Allie Fullah, Louis Sayers, and Joe Ikhinmwin, around veterans Perry Lawson, Laurent Irish, Rod Brown and new signing Nick freer.“The game was tough,” said London Lions Head Coach Vince Macaulay. “Obviously we haven’t had any practices, and we had a couple of guys just flown in yesterday and we were playing against a superbly drilled team, they were terrific, their fast break was awesome and they shot the lights out.

“From a basketball perspective, we were certainly chasing shadows, trying to bag some cats, but we learnt a lot and I really, really enjoyed it and I think my guys really, really enjoyed it.”

“I thought it was a great game for us,” said Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery. “Very well coached team we just played, they ran really good stuff…

“I’ve always wanted to come to London, one of the greatest cities in the world, but for us it was an easy decision because we wanted to bring Gabe home, see his family and be here with him and get a chance for all of the Hawkeye family to meet the Olaseni family.”

The Hawkeyes also beat the Lions on Tuesday night, 102-58, in a closed door game at the Copper Box, where both teams played their younger guys.

Olaseni was once again solid, perfect from the floor the first 20 minutes of action, making all four field goals and one free throw, scoring nine first-half points. In the first game his family had seen him play in a Hawkeye uniform in person, he finished with 11 points, 2 blocks and 4 rebounds.

Gabe and the Hawkeyes depart for the next part of their European tour on Thursday morning, where they will head to Paris, France.

Image Credit: Iowa Basketball/@IowaHoops

  • E

    Great to see good Uk ballers but would really love to know how many ballers we export,every year anyone any ideas ???

    • neil w

      Sam done a list on here of UK players in ncaa/naia/njcaa either begining of last season or the one before.


      Eurobasket.com will give you an indication of UK players overseas but it isn’t totally acurate or up to date

      • E

        Thanks Neil W ,was a great deal more than I had anticipated

  • toneloc

    Blow out twice. Once by 50pts?? Sad state of affairs for professional basketball in the UK, no matter how many came out.

  • dave f

    except for the fact that it’s a ‘team’ which hasnt even started pre-season yet (and wont play a competitive game for another 7 weeks) with a bunch of guys who have never played together and may not even be signed to play together.

    The scores have absollutely no bearing in determining the state of affairs of professional basketball in the UK. It was just an exhibition game

    • toneloc

      Sad state when you get blown out 50pts by a uni team twice. Brush if off if you will, but that’s just bad PR and brand management for the already poor league.

      • Phil

        I don’t think you can brush Iowa off as just “a uni team”. Given the Lions main team haven’t properly played together yet, and as Dave points out, won’t play a league game for 7 weeks I agree the result can’t be used to reflect the state of British basketball.

        While of course you are entitled to your opinion, I was at the Copper Box on the 14th. There was a genuine buzz around the place, the Lions did play some good moves and I think the general feeling was a lot more positive than people might think reading your post.

        Does the BBL have a way to go, yes. But it is making progress – and arenas like the Copper Box and the Emirates will help that.

  • Morris

    How many spectators were at the game (other than friends and family) ?

    Will games in the Copper Box attract the general public?

    • Not sure of exact numbers, to begin with I’d say defo no more than 5,000. It did fill out a bit more throughout the game.

      Respectable sized crowd for sure, am fascinated to see what regular/average attendances will be for the Lions throughout the season. Playing in an arena like that really does change the game – I love the fact one of the first comments on one of the YouTube videos I put up was “how come its so packed (is this in the US or UK)” – just shows you want it does for the perception of the game.

      If the Lions can make it work it’s a huge step forward for the BBL.

      • Calwright

        People will not come and see crap basketball on the regular. But good first showing.

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