Home » EuroCup Women’s final: History-making London Lions going for glory and breaking boundaries

EuroCup Women’s final: History-making London Lions going for glory and breaking boundaries

Since losing their first match of the season, a qualifier to get into Europe’s premier club competition the EuroLeague, the Lions have won all 26 games across domestic and European basketball. They sit second in the WBBL with three games in hand on league leaders Caledonia Gladiators.

Having finished top of their group, the Lions convincingly beat Lointek Gernika Bizkaia, of Spain, in the round of 16, before overcoming Turkey’s Melikgazi Kayseri in the quarter-final.

They then beat Umana Reyer Venice, of Italy, to become the first British finalists in a European competition and Fagbenle said it would be the “cherry on the top” to win a European championship in London.

She added: “This is going to be the first and last year I’m playing here so why not end it with a bang?”

The Lions face three-time Turkish league champions Besiktas in a two-leg final, travelling to Istanbul for the first leg before hosting the second at a near sold-out Copper Box, in Stratford.

The team with the higher aggregate score across the two legs will win the trophy.

General manager Vanja Cernivec has warned her Lions players to expect a huge home support in Istanbul and captain Shanice Beckford-Norton said the players will relish the opportunity in Turkey and London.

“It’s massive, I’ve heard some of the other teams in the league are coming down to support us so that’s where our rivalry goes out the way,” the 26-year-old guard said.

“It’s been a long journey for this club and this team and we’re so pleased to be able to have so many people backing us.

“They’re a very talented team and they have some superstars like we have, but I think we have a deeper bench and we’re ready, so I hope they are too and I hope we put on a fantastic show for women’s basketball as well.”

Support for the Lions has grown to a point where the players regularly spend up to 45 minutes signing autographs after home games, something Cernivec was not seeing when she first arrived.

She believes the team’s success can help continue to grow the sport in the UK and also improve the standards of the league and coaching in the country.

“The players are best friends, they have great chemistry and on the court it’s like they’re reading each other’s minds,” Cernivec, who was the NBA’s first female scout in her role at the Chicago Bulls, said.

“The final is such a big moment for us and we’re ready to bring the trophy home and make another note in the history of British basketball.”