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Royals’ Jules in the crown

PUBLISHED: 16:15 07 November 2018

Ed Lucas of London City Royals (pic: @samneter/Hoopsfix.com)

Ed Lucas of London City Royals (pic: @samneter/Hoopsfix.com)

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Jules Dang Akodo was the ‘Jules in the Crown’ for injury-hit London City Royals, but the vibrant Great Britain guard couldn’t prevent a disappointing 90-81 British Basketball League Cup loss to Worcester Wolves.

The newly-formed Royals’ growing army of fans gasped as Akodo, 22, signed from German outfit Fraport Skyliners, threatened to tame the Wolves at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

But his 13 points on debut, along with 25 from leading scorer Mat Bryan-Amaning and 14 from versatile Ed Lucas weren’t enough and the Royals were left licking their wounds.

The brave Royals, missing four key players, started slowly and were behind (22-24, 42-43, 60-65) after each quarter.

Brixton-born Akodo, signed last week along with 6ft 9ins centre Will Ohuaregbe who has arrived from Leuven in Belgium, had only three practice sessions with his new teammates before being thrown in at the deep end.

Akodo said: “I did okay but it was nothing – we didn’t win.

“We started pretty slow and let them get comfortable. We were almost always behind but couldn’t make a run and a couple of threes at the end killed us.

“But I’m looking forward to contributing more. We have long season and a lot of guys heading back from injuries so, potentially, it’s looking good.”

Point guard Ed Lucas added: “I think sometimes we come in a bit too relaxed. On paper you see our talent which speaks for itself, but we have to speak on the court.”

The Royals lost this first round cup-tie without long-term injury victim Ashley Hamilton (wrist), AJ Roberts (groin), Will Neighbour (hand) and Dayshonee Much, while Ohuaregbe hadn’t obtained clearance to play.

The key spell came at the end of the third quarter as Wolves overturned a deficit to score the last seven points of the period, sparked by an Adam Thoseby three-pointer as they took a 65-60 lead into the fourth.

The game was still tight heading down the stretch, settled by a crucial Thoseby triple to make the score 80-73 approaching the final minute.

Long-range shooting proved the key for both teams. Wolves hit nine three-pointers, at 36 per cent, but the Royals could only manage 21 per cent on their 28 attempts.

It was a first win since the opening night of the season for Wolves, who fell short in the BBL Cup Final last season, and they will face London Lions in the quarter-finals.

This Saturday the Royals return to league action, hosting reigning BBL champions Leicester Riders who could only beat them in overtime last month.

Their record stands at 3-3, with all three losses coming on the road, and Lucas added: “We must come out with all guns blazing. In the first game we had them until the last two minutes.

“Come on down. Whether we are watched by one person or a few hundred, I promise you we shall give them a proper game.”

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