Photo: EuroCup

Paris Basketball’s 106-102 double-overtime over London Lions was more than a statement.

It was a message to the EuroCup that they can close out a game under pressure without star man TJ Shorts.

Despite an impressive stat of 24 points, six assists and five steals, Shorts fouled out with less than a minute played in the second period of overtime and London – who, like Paris, came into their Group A clash unbeaten at 3-0 – was hungry.

At the time of Shorts’ fifth foul, the two teams were locked at 97-97. And with last season’s Basketball Champions League MVP unable to provide any late magic, London looked good value to take this game and go to 4-0.

Sam Dekker’s triple in the corner unglued the roof of the CopperBox, something he also did in regulation to take the game to overtime, and the Lions were up 102-97 with 3:37 left.

The fans were cheering, sensing a home win. Even the EuroCup commentator doubted Paris’ ability to come back with Shorts, and three other rotation players, Tyson Ward, Mehdy Ngouama, and Mikael Jantunen, also fouled out. The French side had no recognised scorer.

However, the visitors were gutsy and held London scoreless following Dekker’s three and ended the game on a 9-0 run to score a massive win, even at this early stage of the EuroCup.

Nadir Hifi was the leading man in double overtime, scoring 20 and supported by Collin Malcolm, who recorded 16. The duo were dangerous throughout, with the former especially lethal down the stretch.

“This says a lot about the character and the mental fortitude of our guys to endure that gut punch, being up six in the last minute, being a favourite, then Dekker hitting an amazing shot,” said Paris coach Tuomas Iisalo.

“It was not easy, but we often say that it’s the next winning play that counts and nothing in the past matters and the guys really lived that ethos.”

This statement win screams that Paris are more than just a one-man team and that they can win big games against big teams as a collective.

And for the casual basketball fans, putting a British Basketball League side in the bracket of ‘big teams’ is something you might have laughed at 15 years ago but the sport in the UK is growing rapidly.

For London, it was their first loss of the season, not just in the EuroCup but overall, as they are currently 10-0, domestically.

Matt Morgan scored a game-high 26 points for London, with Dekker pairing his 19 points with 10 rebounds for a double-double. Gabe Olaseni netted 16 points and downed 11 rebounds for the hosts.

“It was definitely great basketball. I was very happy and proud of how we played tonight,” said Lions coach Petar Bozic. “We came up a little short in the end, but that’s basketball.

“We had a few opportunities, but we had some defensive lapses, especially in that last overtime, and they had some easy points from there.”

But despite a loss, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. A team that for the last three seasons has waved the flag for the UK in Europe, which for years previous has been seen as unthinkable to a niche British basketball fanbase primarily due to financial concerns.

But in this present day, the British Basketball League’s stock is rising, and teams are joining the Lions in Europe, most notably the Caledonia Gladiators, competing in the FIBA Europe Cup with both Lions and Gladiators’ women are playing in the EuroCup Women to add.

London also drew their record crowd of more than 6,100 fans for this exciting clash that was without question the game of the EuroCup so far. Regardless of the result, this game further puts British basketball on the map

But in the English capital on this night, Paris got the last word.