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London eyes more history in semis against Paris | EuroCup

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London Lions made history by storming past U-BT Cluj-Napoca on the road in the quarterfinals to reach the BKT EuroCup Semifinals, the new high-water mark for any British team in a major European club competition.

London’s next goal is to eliminate Paris Basketball in the best-of-three semifinals, despite losing twice against this opponent during the regular season. London and Paris have a lot in common. Both teams joined the competition at the start of the 2022-23 campaign. After facing each other four times in barely two years, Paris and London meet again in the EuroCup Semifinals, and star forward Sam Dekker thinks that having last season’s experience helps a lot.

“Having a lot of guys back has helped. You can kind of go into this now together knowing who’s who and then adding some really important pieces,” Dekker said. “I just think we are overall deeper, having guys like Matt [Morgan] and Dante [Grantham] and Gabe [Olaseni]. It’s pretty cool for us to go out there and not know who’s big night it’s going to be, but it seems like someone new steps up every night.”

Finding the right playing style was a challenge but head coach Petar Bozic, who was a defensive-minded point guard as a player, has London play fast-paced, fun-to-watch basketball.

“We definitely tried to build that style of play, the habits and the culture of a team that likes to play free in transition, a high-paced team, especially when the roster was full,” Bozic said. “When we recovered from all injuries, we were able to perform on the defensive end as well.”

London’s roster was not full until it signed David Nwaba, who has taken the team to another level. Nwaba has not played against Paris this season and should be his team’s x-factor in this series.

“It was definitely a tough transition, just knowing that they built chemistry along the way and I came halfway through,” Nwaba said. “They accepted me just they knew it was going to take me some time to learn to play and build chemistry among them. But I’m glad I was able to pick it up, and I’m glad it was a smooth transition for the most part.”

“On the court, he’s just so dynamic with his strength and his power,” Dekker said of Nwaba. “And defensively, when he turns it on it’s kind of a cheat code to have a guy like that at his size that can do some of the things he does.”

London has a great opportunity to make history, reach the EuroCup Finals, and keep fighting to earn a ticket to play in the 2024-25 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Matt Morgan, the team’s scoring leader, believes it all starts by respecting Paris and making the right choices.

“They are where they are for a reason, that they are a really good team. Just because we are healthy and we are coming into their gym doesn’t mean they are going to change anything. We have to go and take it,” Morgan said. “We know we have a special team, and we just want to make the most of the opportunity and take advantage of it.”

“We are very confident right now, as is Paris,” Dekker added. “This is going to be an incredible matchup for us. And to be that first team to win a EuroCup playoff game as a British team, it’s cool to have that catalyst for hopefully a lot of success down the line for British hoops.”

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