The London Lions secured their spot in the playoffs on Sunday as they overcame Leeds Force in a 100-83 victory at the Carnegie Sports Arena.

Navid Niktash gained 26 points over Leeds as well as eight rebounds with Zaire Taylor gaining the most assits for the team at five. 

It was a good week in all for the London team as last Wednesday, they took a season head-to-head over Newcastle Eagles for the first time in 17 years as they won 93-85 at the Copper Box Arena.

A double-double from the in-from Rashad Hassan helped the Lions strengthen their position in the play-off spots as a much-improved performance saw in a deserved victory.

The form of the Lions hasn’t been great in recent weeks and a heavy defeat in the previous game to Cheshire made them the underdogs prior to this clash.

The east London side were strong under the baskets throughout this enthralling contest – getting 49 rebounds and forcing foul after foul which saw them head for the free throw line 31 times.

Hassan (18 points, 14 rebounds) was joined in having a brilliant game by Kai Williams who was effective at both ends of the court - also scoring 18.

Newcastle started strongly and piled on the pressure against their shell-shocked hosts and another defeat looked to be on the cards as they built up a double-figure lead before the midway point of the opening quarter.

However, as the quarter went on, the Lions came to life and produced a performance that hadn’t been seen from them for quite some time.

Williams led the comeback as he drained a three before heading back into defence to steal the ball. Moving back up the court to the basket he was then the recipient of a Taylor steal, with the latter gaining man of the match.

With just under three minutes remaining in the first period, Alex Owumni sank another three-pointer to level the game. A time-out briefly halted the Lions momentum and following a scrappy period of play, the Eagles found themselves three up at the break.

Newcastle kept committing the fouls and with both teams vying for some sort of control in the game, the lead was exchanged between the two. Newcastle’s struggles with the Copper Box court were epitomised by Joe Hart as he passed the ball to Lions coach Nigel Lloyd off the inbound.

The lead was gradually built up by the home side, stealing the ball and putting the Eagles defence under pressure at every opportunity and it saw them end the half with a nine-point cushion.

The third quarter had been tricky in the past for the Lions but it was Newcastle who struggled on Wednesday. They continued with regular fouls and the Lions maintained their nine-point advantage until the quarter’s end.

As any good team would, Newcastle came out fighting which provided that supporters with a thoroughly entertaining final period and by the mid-way point, the Eagles had clawed back the Lions lead to only 3 points. With seconds left, Niktash relieved the pressure by sinking a corner three to secure the win.

Next up at the Copper Box Arena for the Lions is Leicester on Easter Sunday, April 16 (4pm tip-off).