London Lions make history with EuroCup Women Finals spot -

London Lions make history with EuroCup Women Finals spot

Holly Winterburn London Lions vs Venezia

London Lions have become the first British team to make a European final after defeating Umana Reyer Venezia in the EuroCup semi-finals on Tuesday evening at the Copper Box.

A 71-59 victory (140-127 aggregate) over the Italians secured their place in the history books.

With a rumours swirling following a report from The Athletic the side is being pulled from Europe next season amidst budget cuts and lay offs across London Lions owners 777 Partners’ portfolio, the Lions were able to drown out the distractions and put on a masterful performance.

After a tight one point victory in the first leg, the two teams traded punches before a 16-3 Lions run in the third quarter which included four consecutive triples saw them take a commanding lead and roll to victory, creating jubilant scenes at the Copper Box.

Twenty three year old Winterburn showed her ability to shoulder the load, sparking the team early and in the crucial third quarter stretch, having nine of her 17 in the opening quarter, while adding four rebounds and five assists.

“We knew it was going to be a hard game,” Lions Head Coach Stella Kaltsidou told Hoopsfix after the game.

“Reyer are a very very good team we knew that they would come here to fight, we wanted to stay focused on the plan for 40 minutes. We had some mistakes but we stepped up in the crucial moments to succeed.

“(It feels) Amazing. We are in the final, it can’t be anything less than amazing, the girls deserve the best; they work so hard and they deserve it 1000%.”

Lions will have to wait until Thursday night to find out whether they will go up against Spar Girona or Besiktas in the Final, though it is looking to be Besiktas as they hold a commanding and precious 21-point lead from the first leg in Istanbul.

In this one, the ever dependable Temi Fagbenle continued to show her class with 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Megan Gustafson came alive in the second half, with nine of her 19 points in the fourth (and 13 in the second half).

Whether or not Lions are able to win the two leg final remains to be seen, but if this does prove to be the last dance, what a dance it has been

“I can’t make any comment on this,” Kaltsidou replied regarding the report of them being withdrawn next season.

“The only thing I can say is that we are very, very motivated no matter what happens. This is something the organisation will decide, it isn’t to do with us, we will stay focused and will try to do the best job we can, go to the final and give our everything.”

Box score.

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