The Lions' adventure into the European competition has come to an end, but the side will still be able to make a mark in Europe.
The first quarter couldn’t have started any better for the visitors, as Deandre Liggins finished in traffic to create an early and one opportunity.
Kevin Ware, Just Robinson and Byron Mullens were able to continue piling pressure on to the Neptunas defence, with Ware adding four points, and Robinson and Mullens both adding important three-point shots, leaving Mullens with six at the first, and Robinson with five.
The Lions were playing with confidence, and defensively looked solid until the end of the quarter, and the side trailed by three at the end of the period, in a close 21-24 game.
The second quarter was a quarter of struggles on the offensive side of the game for both sides, as neither team got into any rhythm.
Kervin Bristol added the first points of the quarter for the Lions from mid-range before Robinson added five to the scoreboard with a layup and a huge three, to leave the battling visitors only down by one.
Basketball is a game of runs, and following Robinson’s work the hosts were able to claw back a sizeable lead, with six unanswered points to give Neptunas a 37-30 lead.
However, the Lions answered back before the end of the quarter, as Ware’s slam dunk and Bristol’s control in the paint added some much needed offensive consistency, and the Lions trailed 38-40 at the halfway mark.
The third quarter began in dramatic fashion, as the referees had a huge call to make following an on-court scuffle between Mullens and a Neptunas player.
What began as a scrap for positioning became tangled, and the Neptunas player was given an unsportsmanlike conduct call against him, following a slight push towards the face.
This sparked the Lions into life, Mullens making both free throws before dishing off for a dunk for Matthew Bryan-Amaning, followed by Liggins making a mid-range jumper to pull the game back to 45 apiece.
Bryan-Amaning began to take over the quarter for the Lions, as he added two fantastic finishes in the post, along with a huge three-pointer from captain Joe Ikhinmwin and a fantastic coast to coast layup from Ware to see the sides go in level at 54 at the end of the third quarter.
The game had become a one-quarter shoot out for a place in the final of the Basketball Champions League Qualifiers.
The Lions couldn’t have had a better start to the fourth quarter, as they finally took the lead through Ikhinmwin after he four quick points, including one fantastic turn in the paint that resulted in an and one, but it was missed.
Bryan-Amaning continued his domination, as he continued to add points in the paint that kept the Lions in the lead.
However, the tables quickly turned and Neptunas began to control the game once again, and the Lions defence was giving the hosts way too many open looks.
Neptunas had a six point lead, before Robinson added three points in unusual fashion, as the ball bounced off the rim, onto the top of the backboard and in, followed by Dirk Williams hitting a clutch three to tie the game at 73 each.
But it wasn’t enough for the Lions, as Neptunas were able to close out the game and take a massive victory as there Champions League dream continues.
Lions Player of the Match
There was one standout performer for the Lions this afternoon, and that was Bryan-Amaning.
The power forward added a vital 16 points for the Lions, along with grabbing nine rebounds, five of these coming off the offensive glass, as he sparked the revival of the Lions in the third quarter and continued into the fourth.
His dominant display was one of the main reasons for the Lions staying in the game for the full distance, but he was helped by Mullens adding ten points and eight rebounds, Justin Robinson adding thirteen points, and although he faced struggles with his shot on the night, Ware adding eight points, six rebounds and four assists.