Eurocup Women’s Final: London Lions Make History

In an unprecedented achievement, the London Lions women’s basketball team has etched their name in the annals of history by becoming the first British team to secure a spot in the EuroCup Women’s Final. Their winning streak doesn’t stop there, as they are also on the hunt for their third consecutive domestic title in the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL).

Since their initial loss at the start of the season, the Lions have demonstrated their prowess by winning all 26 games across domestic and European basketball. Their journey to the finals saw them triumph over Spain’s Lointek Gernika Bizkaia in the round of 16, followed by a victory against Turkey’s Melikgazi Kayseri in the quarter-final. Their semi-final win against Italy’s Umana Reyer Venice marked them as the first British finalists in a European competition.

The Lions are set to compete against the three-time Turkish league champions, Besiktas, in a two-leg final. The first leg will see them travel to Istanbul, followed by the second leg hosted at the near sold-out Copper Box in Stratford. The team with the superior aggregate score across the two legs will claim the trophy.

Team captain, Shanice Beckford-Norton, expressed the team’s anticipation for the opportunity to compete in Turkey and London. She highlighted the team’s depth and readiness to put on a spectacular show for women’s basketball.

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The Lions’ success has significantly contributed to the growth of the sport in the UK, with players spending considerable time signing autographs after home games. However, the team’s achievements this season are overshadowed by uncertainty, with owners 777 reportedly planning to withdraw the club from European competition next year due to financial constraints, even if they end the season as EuroCup champions. The men’s team, however, will continue to compete at that level.

General manager Vanja Cernivec, the NBA’s first female scout during her tenure at the Chicago Bulls, has cautioned her Lions players to anticipate substantial home support in Istanbul. She is optimistic that the team’s success will further boost the sport’s growth in the UK and enhance the standards of the league and coaching in the country.

Cernivec expressed her excitement for the final, stating, “We’re ready to bring the trophy home and make another note in the history of British basketball.” She remains hopeful that the funding situation will improve, allowing them to continue competing in Europe.

Temi Fagbenle, the first Briton to win the WNBA and current captain of Great Britain, plans to return to the United States at the end of the season. However, her immediate focus is on securing the EuroCup trophy and enhancing the pathway for girls in schools.

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