LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball needed a reset after combining for eight points in Prienu Vytautas’ 91-76 loss to Lietkabelis in Lithuanian (LKL) League play on Saturday. Come Monday, LaVar Ball’s boys got just that, multiplying their scoring output by more than 10 times in total, with the Big Baller Brand CEO standing in as coach, to top the London Lions at the Copper Box Arena, 127-110, in the Big Baller’s London Clash.
Melo needed just three quarters to tally a triple-double. He finished with 39 points, despite whiffing on a fastbreak dunk in the first half and blowing a layup in transition after the break. The 16-year-old had his fair share of airballs from outside, too, but generally did well to score in a variety of ways—from deep threes and floaters to soft finishes and timely putbacks. The 16-year-old also drove and dished his way to 16 assists while collecting 16 rebounds.
Gelo, who declared for the 2018 NBA draft last week, struggled to get shots to drop from the low post and blew a transition dunk of his own, but managed to pile up a team-high 44 points nonetheless. He found better luck from long range, snuck inside for some cleanup points and fed off LaMelo in transition.
Though the Ball brothers did their work against grown men this time—after demolishing the Guangdong Southern Tigers’ youth squad last Tuesday—the Lions were bound to run out of gas, as they did in the second half. While Vytautas was playing its second game in three days, London’s British Basketball League team faced its fourth in five nights.
At present, Vytautas doesn’t have any more Big Baller Brand-sponsored exhibitions on its schedule. The club’s next game is set for Sunday at 7 a.m. PT against LKL powerhouse Lietuvos Rytas at Siemens Arena in Vilnius. Vytautas, with five losses in a row and a dismal 5-23 record, will once again be desperate for a win and a way out of last place in the league.
The Ball Brothers and BC Vytautas overcame London Lions 127-110 in the Big Baller Brand London Clash in front of 5,000 fans on Monday afternoon at the Copper Box Arena.
The exhibition saw little defence played from either side, as the teenage Ball brothers took full advantage; sixteen year old LaMelo had 39 points, 16 rebounds, 16 assists and 6 steals, whilst LiAngelo had 44 points, as they dominated the ball for Vytautas – who were coached by their father LaVar. Vytautas are 5-23 on the regular season in the Lithuanian LKL, sitting in bottom place of the table (10th), whilst the Lions are 17-9 in third place in the BBL.
Jordan Spencer, in his first game as a professional since graduating from Augustana College, was impressive as he finished with 32 points and 8 assists to lead the Lions, going off for 25 points in the second quarter alone, lighting it up from beyond the arc. Cory Dixon had 25 points and 20 rebounds, and Justin Robinson had 9 points in five minutes before exiting early with an injury.
A digital phenomenon with their own Facebook show which boasts over 1.4million followers, the Ball family have embraced social media, capitalising on the the presence of Lonzo Ball on the Lakers to grow the Big Baller Brand, along with the outspoken LaVar Ball and future NBA prospect LaMelo Ball. The Big Baller Brand showed its pull in London, almost filling the Copper Box with a predominantly younger audience; one not normally seen at BBL games. Numerous pieces of BBB merchandise were visible in the stands during the game, as the pop up store near the entrance of the arena was swamped.
LiAngelo has recently declared for the 2018 NBA draft but is an outside shot of being selected. LiAngelo and LaMelo made the unprecedented move of turning pro in Lithuania this season; ‘Gelo’ dropped out of UCLA, whilst ‘Melo’ opted for the European pro route instead of High School and College as is standard for the majority of top US prospects. The move to BC Vytautas also includes a partnership to help grow the Big Baller Brand. Whilst the brothers have seen more limited minutes in Lithuania’s top flight, the club has been taking part in Big Baller Brand exhibitions where the Balls can star.
The two teams combined to shoot 104 three-pointers, whilst the Ball brothers had the green light, combining for 77 field goal attempts between them.
The article titled, Ball Brothers Overcome Spencer Outburst in Big Baller Brand London Clash, first appeared here
The international sports capital of London was tinted green on Friday night as the pride of Lithuanian basketball, Zalgiris Kaunas, drew almost 6,000 fans to The Copper Box for a preseason friendly game, the Titans Trophy, with Polish side Polski Cukier Torun. It marked the first time ever that a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague team played a preseason game in London, and the many Lithuanian fans in the city could not have been more responsive. Less than a month before the start of the EuroLeague season, the Zalgiris fans made London echo with the basketball passions of Kaunas for one special night.
The festivities drew the attendance of the Lithuanian and British basketball officials, the Mayor of Kaunas, Visvaldas Matijosaitis, and Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu, who applauded the initiative of Zalgiris in bringing high level basketball to its foreign fan base in such an important city for sports.
“You can see from being here how that special Zalgiris spirit fits London well, as the fans here are just as passionate and dressed in their team colors as at home,” Mr. Bertomeu said. “It shows that even in cities where the EuroLeague doesn’t have teams and cannot play games regularly, there is a market for our unique brand of basketball.”
The fans got what they came for, too, as Torun led early before Zalgiris got big plays from longtime fan favorites and newcomers alike. Team captain Paulius Jankunas steadied his troops when they were down. High flying new arrival Axel Toupane got them out of their seats with big plays. Sharpshooter Arturas Milaknis did what he does best from downtown. Big man Brandon Davies showed some fine open-court defense. Point guard Dee Bost put his heart on the floor, the way Zalgiirs fans love. And emerging star Edgaras Ulanovas was the glue whenever Zalgiris needed it. Even teenager Gytis Masiulis showed the fans in London flashes of the future as he contributed to his team’s takeover and dominance.
It all added up to an impressive 87-61 win as Zalgiris got stronger and stronger as the game went along. Axel Toupane led the winners with 17 points. Arturas Milaknis added 14, Paulius Jankunas had 11 while Edgaras Ulanovas got 10 for the Lithuanian powerhouse. Zalgiris trailed 16-17 after 10 minutes but soon took full control of the game. A three-pointer by Milaknis soon made it a double-digit game, 38-28, near halftime and Zalgiris never looked back after that, getting a 64-47 margin after 30 minutes and cruising to a well-deserved win.
“The party atmosphere showed once again how much Lithuanians love basketball, and how much they miss their country,” Zalgiris head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius said after the game. “It was just an amazing atmosphere and I wish we can do this more often because you can really see you are making people happy. It is very nice. I hope they enjoyed it! The new guys will understand what kind of team they came to. I hope they enjoyed this type of support, which has always been famous for Zalgiris. It was a great evening.”
Best of all, it ended in a solid win for Zalgiris against the second-place team last season in the Polish League. And the fans, of which expatriate Lithuanians and local British fans were most prominent, provided the kind of atmosphere that rang true – even in a place not known for basketball – for a EuroLeague team getting ready for the exciting season ahead.