WITH rising crowds, nationally televised games and most importantly wins the London Lions have brought top level British basketball back to Crystal Palace but only for one year.
The Lions moved from Milton Keynes in the summer and after a tough start to the season have won three of their last four games in the British Basketball League – the country's premier professional league.
Two victories this weekend at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, where the now defunct London Towers last played in the BBL in 2006, mean the Lions have won six of their opening 13 league games leaving them sixth in the BBL.
Coach and owner Vince Macauley has been delighted with their recent form and the response from the fans: "We couldn't have been better received, the people of London have clearly been fired up by sport and the Olympics and have embraced the team wholeheartedly."
The team was established as the Hemel Hempstead Lakers in 1977 and after various different moves became the Milton Keynes Lions in 1998 where they remained until this summer when they were unable to find a new venue to seat enough fans after the lease expired on their previous home.
As part of a partnership with Greenwich Leisure Limited the team will move to the Olympic Park in September 2013 and play games in the Copper Box Arena.
Macauley said: "In the first season we want to establish that London has a pro team and on the floor we want to be competitive and make the end of season play-offs while giving Londoners a place on the team.
"We found it tough at the beginning with so many adjustments to make, the team is young and inconsistent so we lost our first three games.
"However, since then we have done well and our reputation for athletic in your face basketball is serving us well."
Friday's win was a superb comeback victory from a 19-point first half deficit to defeat the Worcester Wolves 94-76 with a fantastic second half defensive display.
Orlan Jackman, a 24-year-old BBL rookie had 22 points in the win which was broadcast on Sky Sports on Tuesday.
Macauley added: "The Sky TV coverage is absolutely critical to the team and to the whole of the British League, people need to see the secret that is basketball in the UK, it is a lot stronger than it is given credit for."
London-born Jackman again starred in Sunday's 86-60 win against the Mersey Tigers with 15 points and 16 rebounds and the team is next in action when they host the Plymouth Raiders on Friday December 7th.