London Thunder Lewisham took home the first title of the NBL 2018/19 Senior Playoff Finals after a comfortable 88-71 win in the Division 4 Final.
A 24-15 2nd quarter put the London side firmly in control, and they comfortably held their own the rest of the way to seal the win. Bristol certainly put up a fight, particularly in the 4th quarter when they narrowed their deficit to 11, but Lewisham’s lead would never dip below double digits during the 2nd half.
MVP honours went to rising star Josh Uduje as he scored a game high 24 points to go with three assists, two seals and a block. Uduje did most of his damage from beyond the arc, going an impressive 6/11 from deep to help push his side to glory.
Given their undefeated regular season, it was no surprise that Bristol came out firing and looked solid from the outset. A triple from South West D4 Player of the Season Benas Andriekus (16 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, four steals) helped spark an 8-2 run to open proceedings, but Lewisham worked through a nervous start to climb back into the game. Alberto Ortiz (18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals) was a catalyst to that as he scored nine in the opening frame.
The 2nd quarter is where Lewisham would break the game open, scoring more freely to establish a double digit lead with just over 5:00 minutes remaining in the half. Despite Andriekus’ efforts, Bristol couldn’t slow Lewisham down as the Thunder began to get some additional production from their bench in the form of Robert Ntim (10 points, two rebounds) and TJ Hibbert (13 points, seven rebounds, two steals). Leading 46-33 at the break, it was an advantage that Lewisham would never relinquish.
Understandably, the Hurricanes came out in the 3rd looking for any way back into the game. Despite some initial success, the quarter belonged to eventual MVP Uduje who scored 10 of Lewisham’s 16 points as he started to catch fire, particularly from long range. The youngster’s up-tempo style was a frequent kick start to most of his side’s offence as he played with real pace in transition, stretching a tiring Thunder.
Quick fire triples from Zygimantas Kosarevas (16 points, three rebounds, five assists, two blocks) and Ignas Daugalas (15 points, seven rebounds) helped cut Bristol’s deficit to 11, but that merely spurred Lewisham into action once again as a pair of baskets by Hibbert padded the Thunder’s advantage. From there, the London side held their nerve to stay in control and seal the win.
London Thunder Lewisham Coach Andrew McKella: “It’s fantastic to get a win here at the Playoff Finals in Division 4. It’s unbelievable. If you saw where we started at the beginning of the season, to where we finished up, we just progressed and grew throughout the season and this is just validation of the work the whole team has done this year.”
Bristol Hurricanes Coach Kestutis Trakelis: “It was a tough game for us. We started well, Lewisham played quite physically and we didn’t always match that. Then from there, we got lower, across the squad, and they made some really good shots. It looked like we could make it back, but they kept making shots, so yeah, tough game.”
It was a great day for the club that saw our 11th appearance at the NBL finals, although this was the first appearance for the Men. Thanks also to all the supporters that made the trip and confirmed once again the strength of our basketball family.