March 9 2014 Latest news:
Exclusive by James Cunliffe
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Head coach Vince Macaulay is confident that Perry Lawson will return from injury by Friday as London Lions aim to keep pace with British Basketball League high-flyers Worcester Wolves.
The guard missed the win over Birmingham Knights a fortnight ago with a wrist strain and was not risked as they lost 91-78 at reigning champions Leicester Riders at the weekend.
It proved a blow to the capital club as fellow playmaker Rod Brown was forced to play with an abductor muscle niggle that reduced his effectiveness.
Macaulay said: “We had to refrain from playing Perry Lawson at the weekend but hopefully he’ll be ready for this week.
“I was watching him the warm-up [at Leicester] and I wasn’t convinced that he was 100 per cent. He was more or less there but I thought it would be better with a week’s rest, which he’s had now.”
Though the Lions coach admitted that the edge was taken off influential Brown he refused to use it as an excuse for the reverse against an experienced Leicester outfit.
“It was a bit of a double blow because it changed the way we play,” he said, adding: “We had to use players that weren’t used to bringing the ball up for us but we have to be ready for that. These are type of things that can happen.”
Friday’s opponents Worcester handed London their first and only defeat to date at their new Copper Box home, edging an agonising one-point game in overtime two months ago.
That added to their credentials as early season pace-setters with a seven-game winning streak in all competitions and, currently sitting in second place, they are still firmly in the title race – even briefly topping the BBL for 48 hours at the weekend until Sheffield Shark returned to the summit.
But London, who are also in the hunt, just four points off the top in fifth, have added Kramer Knutson, Ben Smith and Nick Freer to their roster since their last meeting and that, the coach believes, is something that could tip the balance of the contest in Lions’ favour.
“We have a much deeper team than they do so we’ll make sure they have to work,” Macaulay said.
“We’re confident in every game we play. We went into the game at the weekend fully expecting to win and we’ll go to Worcester with the same attitude.
“We know their threats revolve around [guard] Zaire Taylor and [forward] Will Creekmore and we’re going to work on that.”
Indeed, though the league’s top rebounder Creekmore missed the 101-79 win over Surrey, the duo have been at the forefront of Wolves’ strong campaign, with half of league’s 22 individual statistic charts featuring one or both of them in the top five.
Yet historical head-to-head contests see Lions with a slight edge, leading 12-10 in championship showdowns, but Macaulay believes Worcester, who have racked up consecutive centuries in their last three wins, are a different animal this term.
“We do have something over them [historically] but this Wolves side is better than any Wolves side they’ve ever had, so it’s not going to be easy,” he said.
“We are going to have our work cut out to stop two of the best players in the league right now, plus they’ve just picked up Kai Williams [who rejoined the side after a brief spell with Cheshire Phoenix] so they’ll back themselves – but that doesn’t mean we can’t go there an win.
“From our perspective it’s quite clear – we expect to be challenging at the top and we’re going to go to these places with a view to winning the games.
“It’s important for us to win this one because then that ties us in the head-to-head with them [for the season].
“It’s a critical game for us, especially as they’ve already played Leicester twice and, come the end of the season, it could end up in a tie [at the top of the league] between three, four, or who knows how many [teams] – so it could come down to the head-to-heads unless, of course, someone goes on a run.”