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Report: Bristol Flyers 97-94 London Lions

Bristol Flyers showed great character to claim a hard-fought 97-94 victory over the visiting London Lions.

The closely contested game saw Fred Thomas lead Flyers with 20 points including crucial scoring in crunch time. 



Flyers started the game with a relentless assault on the offensive glass with Fred Thomas, Daniel Edozie and Raphell Thomas-Edwards all tipping home misses for early scores. Lions' offence was also rolling early, with third year veteran Brandon Peel picking up a quick six points. Fred Thomas spotted up from the corner to give Flyers their first lead of the game at 11-10. 

Fast break scores followed for Thomas-Edwards and Edozie, but Peel answered both baskets with more points inside. Gentrey Thomas was able to break through the Lions' defence with dynamic drives before Fred Thomas hit back-to-back triples to extend the margin. Flyers forced an early time out with a steal leading to a fast break lay-up by Lewis Champion from a sweet wrap around pass from Gentrey Thomas. 

Levi Bradley kept the lead growing with bench scoring, putting the defence in the air with a pump fake, making the basket through contact and hitting the free throw to complete the three-point-play. A sequence of scrappy play followed with both Gentrey Thomas and Thomas-Edwards picking up offensive fouls as Flyers closed out the quarter ahead 33-23.

The second quarter started with more second chance points for the home team, with Thomas-Edwards again cleaning up the glass for two baskets.

Lions' backcourt found ways to score with Jordan Whelan hitting a three and Justin Robinson getting to the foul line. New signing Jules Dang Akodo, formerly of Lions’ cross-town rivals London City Royals, hit a high arching bank shot. With Robinson spotting up for a corner three to cut the lead to single digits, Coach Kapoulas called his first time out of the game. 

Lions forced a turnover with a well-timed defensive trap and their Captain Joe Ikhinmwin hit the go-ahead three. Bristol answered with a three from Bradley, but Dang Akodo kept the long bombs coming for London. With the lead eroding Chris Taylor made a huge play, cutting behind the defence and elevating for a two handed alley-oop dunk. Coach Macaulay took his last time out of the half to settle his team and Taylor calmly converted the free throw after the welcome short rest.

The momentum stayed with the Lions late in the second. Edozie was able to sink a much-needed hook shot to stem the bleeding, but Dii’Jon Allen Jordan managed to sink a last second lay-up to close the gap to 55-51 heading into half time.

Flyers started the second-half with a stop and a pull-up jump shot from Champion, but Peel remained their achilles heel, this time scoring from outside the arc. Gentrey Thomas had a sublime sequence getting a block in transition and then running the floor for a driving lay-up. Multiple turnovers followed for Flyers and Allen-Jordan was able to cut the lead to just one point with a pair of scores. A Flyers miss allowed Allen-Jordan to put his team back ahead with a three-pointer.

Fred Thomas restored the Flyers lead with a transition three, but Allen-Jordan had the hot hand and answered straight back. Thomas-Edwards stepped up for Flyers, splashing a triple from the corner and again converting a miss into a score with his activity around the hoop.

Robinson found himself with space on the perimeter and knocked down yet another three for the visitors. Gentrey Thomas recognised an open lane to the basket and accelerated for an easy score. Peel tied up the score a second time with a pair of driving lay-ups before Thomas-Edwards picked up his fifth personal foul. Josh Rogers checked in and hit a huge three-pointer but another end of quarter bucket from London left the scores hanging in the balance at 74 points apiece at the end of the third.

Marcus Delpeche opened the fourth quarter with a huge two-handed dunk and followed up by swatting away a shot to initiate a fast break for Gentrey Thomas. Scores from Whelan and Lockhart followed and Sam Toluwase was able to give Lions another lead at the foul line after being fouled by former Royals team mate Rogers.

A fantastic full-court pass from Gentrey Thomas allowed Delpeche to slam home a fast break dunk. A high flying two handed slam from F. Thomas off the dime from Champion forced a Lions time out with five minutes remaining, 84-79.

Delpeche kept assaulting the rim, hauling down a lob pass and going back up for the dunk. London looked rattled, turning the ball over in their back-court as Gentrey Thomas made sure to punish the mistake with a lay-up. Peel cut the lead to three points with just two minutes remaining as Coach Kapoulas called timeout for Flyers to shore up the transition defence.

Flyers gritted out another stop and Gentrey Thomas hit Fred Thomas with a beautiful lob pass for an alley-oop dunk. Peel imposed himself again, hitting back-to-back threes to keep the game close and reach a game-high 35 points. With both teams failing to find their mark, Lions had to resort to fouling as the time ticked away.

Edozie hit both of his free-throws to keep it a two possession game with just ten seconds remaining. Coach Macaulay called timeout and reached deep into his playbook for an answer. Coach Kapoulas surveyed the set-up and took a tactical timeout of his own to marshall his defence.

Flyers executed their instructions perfectly and a Lions lob pass was deflected out of bounds for a turnover. Fred Thomas went to the line to put the game to bed and a Robinson three-pointer was too little, too late for London as Flyers claimed the three point win.