Ingrained in history: The London Lions European title winners -

Ingrained in history: The London Lions European title winners

London Lions EuroCup Champions

London Lions are European champions. That statement certainly won’t grow old any time soon.

15 wins out of 16 in just their third EuroCup campaign. This is the team that pulled off an incredible achievement in British history and secured legendary status:

#44 Karlie Samuelson

Let’s start with the Finals MVP. It’s no exaggeration to say that Karlie is one of the deadliest shooters in world basketball. The smoothest shooting motion was on full display in the Finals, sprinkled in with a little bit of everything else: taking charges, tough finishes, bringing the energy on both ends, playing with passion – and always with a smile on her face.

Samuelson overcame a slow start to the Finals to finish with 16 points in a big second half effort in the first leg in Istanbul, before netting a team-high 19 points in the crucial second leg victory. The GB guard was impressive all season long with a best of 25 points coming in the first leg of the quarter-finals against Kayseri in Turkiye.

The 28-year-old departs to join up with Washington Mystics in the WNBA having finally (and deservedly) established herself in the league after several setbacks in recent seasons.

EuroCup stats: 14.4 PPG | 5.5 RPG | 2.4 APG | 41% 3PT

#15 Temi Fagbenle

The ultimate leader, and a certified WINNER. It’s long overdue that Temi’s CV is given the respect it deserves. An WNBA winner, and now a European winner to add to all of the many domestic accolades all around Europe. Straight business, hard-working, the inspirational captain is the utmost professional and delivers time and time again for club and country.

Fagbenle had an off-night by her own high standards in the first leg of the Finals, but came out with the opening four points in the second leg and would finish with 17 in the win. The leading scorer this season with 16.4 points per game, the GB legend had an efficiency rating of 20+ in 11 games with a best of 34 against GDESSA in the regular season after dropping 26 points on 11-13 shooting with nine rebounds and five assists.

I think everyone can be thankful that we got to see Fagbenle playing in the UK, even if it is only for the one season.

EuroCup stats: 16.4 PPG | 6.8 RPG | 2.3 APG | 62% FG

#7 Holly Winterburn

Talk about living up to the hype. There was a reason there were calls for Holly to represent the GB Senior team for so long, and there’s a reason why many believe Holly is going right to the top. EuroLeague? WNBA? Only a matter of time. One of the biggest shots in British Basketball history: Winterburn drained the decisive three-pointer to put London ahead on aggregate for the final time in the final 20 seconds of the second leg.

The 23-year-old also played a crucial role in the first leg to keep London in the contest; finishing with 23 points, five rebounds and five assists in a real leader’s performance. The talent has always been there, but that’s only part of the process – and this is testament to reaping the rewards of hard work.

This is only the beginning.

EuroCup stats: 12.6 PPG | 4.2 RPG | 5.1 APG | 43% 3PT

#10 Megan Gustafson

Perhaps the biggest signal of intent in the summer recruitment was the Lions landing last season’s leading scorer in EuroLeague. Gustafson is an absolute machine inside, but don’t let her step outside either – a couple of big triples in the Finals second leg were vital, before securing the win from the free throw line in the clutch.

Gustafson opened her campaign with a double-double against Keltern, and had two big performances against Turkish side Kayseri in the quarter-finals with 26 points in the first leg on the road followed up with a 24-point display at home. The Spanish international will be suiting up for LV Aces in the WNBA this season, either side of a trip to the Olympics.

EuroCup stats: 15.2 PPG | 6.2 RPG | 61% FG | 47% 3PT

#6 Kat Snytsina

Kat Snytsina London Lions
What a way to bow out on the European stage. A sniper on the offensive end with all the smarts you could wish for. One of the more underrated signings in this recent Lions era as the now 38-year-old arrived with so much experience

Snytsina had two previous bites at the cherry in a EuroCup final that ended in defeat, so victory tastes even sweeter for the Belarusian, who is also in the top three in scoring in the competition’s history. The vet had seven games in double figures in scoring including 20 points against Bursa in the second leg, as well as contributing 10 points in the first leg of the Finals.

EuroCup stats: 8.2 PPG | 3.6 RPG | 3.0 APG

#2 Ivana Katanic

Ivana Katanic
One of the underrated clogs in the machine this season, Serbian point guard Katanic has given the Lions plenty of control in the backcourt throughout. Not needed for her scoring in a team with an array of weapons, Katanic dished out six assists on three occasions with a best of 14 points against Lointek Gernika.

However, perhaps with the defensive duties of Peddy and need for scoring, Katanic only saw seven minutes of action across the two games in the Finals, but will be hoping to make Serbia’s roster for the Olympics this summer.

EuroCup stats: 5.9 PPG | 2.5 RPG | 3.3 APG

#20 Abby Meyers

Injury delayed the early season impact of Meyers – perhaps crucially missing the EuroLeague qualifiers tie with DVTK. But the fact that the former WNBA first round pick has not been required to play a huge role speaks volumes of the quality in depth of the roster. Meyers made a European debut in the final round of regular season action before a best of 12 points against Bursa. The sharpshooter contributed seven points in the second leg of the Finals – making the way up the rotation with 17 minutes.

EuroCup stats: 4.1 PPG | 2.1 RPG | 12.9 MPG

#11 Shey Peddy

Shey Peddy
Lost in the moment of Holly’s title-clincher, was the fact Peddy had hit a huge three just minute earlier after Besiktas had regained the aggregate lead. An in-season signing off the back of a long injury layoff, Peddy showed all of her experience when it mattered most.

The 35-year-old stepped into the starting role in the latter stages of the competition – dishing out a best of 10 assists on debut – and was tasked with slowing down the dangerous Dana Evans, who went a combined 13-of-54 in the Finals.

EuroCup stats: 4.5 PPG | 4.0 RPG | 3.5 APG

#12 Savannah Wilkinson

Savannah Wilkinson London Lions
Another player that just never gives less than their best. This season marked somewhat of a full circle moment for Wilkinson, who previously played for the club when it was Barking Abbey in the WBBL before heading off to the States. The 25-year-old Brit’s best display came during the regular season with 16 points and eight rebounds in a big win over Castors Braine on the road which was an early signal of intent from the Lions.

EuroCup stats: 4.3 PPG | 3.6 RPG | 14.9 MPG

#3 Shanice Beckford-Norton

Shanice Becford Norton EuroCup Champion
Unrelenting energy. A nightmare to face on the court (in the nicest way possible) and the most humble person off the court – and someone a lot of kids look up to. Beckford-Norton had to accept a reduced role on the team from previous years, but never shied away from any responsibility and making the use of any court time – opening the campaign in style with an important 16-point performance in a win in Portugal.

EuroCup stats: 3.1 PPG | 1.5 RPG | 10.7 MPG

Faye Endean London Lions EuroCup
As a neutral, one of the most pleasing additions for the Lions this season was Faye Endean. The young guard picked up MVP honours in WNBL D1 last season, and earned a step up to the WBBL with an invaluable opportunity to learn from the best. Endean dished out 13 assists in the controversy-marred home win over Bursa in the playoffs.

Maya Price London Lions EuroCup Champion

Maya Price was plagued with injury this season but made a long-awaited comeback in the league earlier in 2024, and has been enjoying some big contributions to their unbeaten regular season campaign. 17-year-old Katie Cox will have no doubt learnt a lot from the experience, too, and has a very bright future ahead – be it in basketball, or even football.

It was also good to see Cheridene Green with a medal and part of the celebrations, albeit equally sad that we’ve not seen her suit up for the Lions this season.

Stella Kaltsidou

Stella Kaltsidou EuroCup celebrations
Mission accomplished. The Greek national arrived in London with the main aim of delivering on the European stage, and has led the Lions to become European champions in the first full season. Full respect goes to Stella – a true player’s coach, and has got the best out of an undoubtedly extremely talented team – backed up by the coaching staff that includes former WBBL head coaches Krumesh Patel and Matt Pitkin.

Then there’s the team behind the team, from General Manager Vanja Cernivec and Assistant GM Jacob Lloyd, team managers/operations help Ruchae Walton (who has also been playing for the WBBL team in recent weeks) and Nicholle Lavinier, physio Wura Ijelu, S&C coach Jordan Godfrey to social media duo Lizzy Harrison and Neve Palmer.

And let’s not forget those that have played a major role in the journey along the way – legendary duo Mark Clark and Jo Leedham-Warner helped pave the way, as well as Azania Stewart – imprinting their marks for the next generation to take through.

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