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