By Jamie Thomas
One of the most electrifying shooters in the BBL this season, the London Lions’ Lorenzo Cugini is confident he and his teammates will put their best foot forward as the Play-offs get underway this week, with London facing their BBL Trophy Final conquerors, Cheshire Phoenix, in the quarter-finals.
The last chance for the team to win a title this year, after falling just short throughout the season in other competitions, Cugini feels his team are in good shape going into the post-season and has confidence in the group’s ability to make it to the 02 Sand on May 15th.
“Whatever has happened has happened, we’ve done the best we can with what we can control individually. These last three games have been positive for us so that is a nice bit of momentum and given us a better view of our identity as a team, so we’re going into this playing our best basketball.
“We’re looking forward to facing Cheshire. The Trophy Final was what it was. We had some injuries, but enough quality and talent to win the game and it just didn’t go our way. We’ve got the chance to put that right and we’ll take care of business if we do our due diligence properly over the next few days.
“Everybody has their own definition of success, but we want to win this competition regardless of what everyone else has to say. We’re just going to focus on us, being our best selves and seeing what is in front of us instead of what is behind us, hopefully winning out to the end of the season and having success in the Playoff Final.”
“Those experiences can only help us be ready for the Playoffs.”
The Lions have put themselves to the test on some enormous stages this year, not just in their exploits domestically by reaching major finals and semi-finals, but also on the continent in the FIBA Europe Cup where the capital side secured some outstanding results, representing the BBL with distinction.
Cugini discussed how much those experiences will help the team find their best performances in the Play-offs, and what lessons they can take from the highs and lows of a storied campaign.
“We’ve played in so many big games this year, whether that be in this country by reaching finals and semi-finals or by playing in Europe and I think those experiences can only help us be ready for having to perform in the playoffs, because we’ve been in those high-pressure situations before.
“I just treat it like any other game to be honest with you, doing my best to get to grips with the scouting and understanding what’s expected of me in any given match-up so I can go into the game as confident as possible that I I’m prepared.
“The biggest lesson I think we have to have from this year so far is to never get too high and never get too low, and to enjoy the moment. There’s always going to be adversity and tough moments, so we’ve got to enjoy the moment and have fun because we’re lucky to be able to play at this level.”
“I pride myself on my shooting ability.”
As much as the Lions have electrified fans across the league this season with some of their play at times, Cugini himself has had many fans at the Copperbox on the edges of their seats whenever he catches the ball beyond the three-point line, regularly nailing shots with a high degree of difficulty.
One of the league leaders in three-point percentage and an efficient scorer at all levels, the 28-year-old has earned significant plaudits for his ability to put points on the board in a number of different ways, and he discussed the development of his scoring prowess and the love for his craft.
“I hear [the plaudits] but I kind of just take it at face value, really, because I’d rather the team had success than nice things that be said about me, to be honest. At the end of the day winning things as a team means more to me, but it is still cool to hear these things being said about my game.
“I pride myself on my shooting ability and I put a lot of work in off the court in practice and so on and during the summer to get better all the time, so it is cool that I’ve been able to come in and perhaps turn some heads at times. Shooting has a different status in the game nowadays and it is cool to be looked at as one of the guys that can do that to a good level.
“My love and skill for shooting is something that has been with me for a long time, to be honest. My dad and I would work on it all the time when I was really young and I have developed it more uniquely over the years, able to do a lot of different things in a lot of scenarios now. I enjoy being good at it, but more so I enjoy finding new ways to get even better and express myself in this way.”
Get your tickets for the BBL Playoff Finals and join us for the showpiece finale to an epic season at London’s 02 Arena on May 15th here!