It’s a capital city double in the first monthly awards of the season as one goes south of the Thames to Lloyd Gardner, and the other goes north of the river to Brandon Peel.
The two met on Friday night, 1st November, in a nail-biter at the Copper Box Arena as Peel’s London Lions came from behind to hand Gardner’s London City Royals their first defeat, 100-99.
For his team’s performances in September and October, Gardner has picked up the Molten Kevin Cadle BBL Coach of the Month award, after previously having the perfect start to his maiden season at the BBL level.
His Royals had opened the campaign 6-0 and were the first team to have qualified for the BBL Cup quarter-finals. Of particular note, they had won the first Capital City Derby, beating Lions 92-77 to start the month of October at Crystal Palace.
In addition, Gardner’s coaching mettle has been tested to the fullest as star Great Britain point guard Andrew Lawrence has missed the last three games, while all three of the team’s road wins have come by just one shot margins: 89-87 at Plymouth Raiders, 67-65 at Worcester Wolves, and 84-82 at Surrey Scorchers.
Gardner will be pleased with the team-oriented manner in which that has been achieved, as Royals are second in the BBL in assists per game and possess the third best defence. While he was clear that this sets the foundation, he suggests there is more to come: “It’s been a good start for us,” enthused Gardner, “and I’ve been happy with how we have begun the early part of the season.
“The team has shown the foundations of a lot of positives that we will be able to use during the course of the year. Hopefully we can continue to build on this as we progress through the rest of the Cup competition and into the Championship campaign.”
Meanwhile, London Lions’ forward Brandon Peel has scooped the first Molten BBL Player of the Month award, as the shining light in what has been a difficult start to the season for the reigning league champions, who are currently 2-4.
Peel has averaged a double-double through his first five games, and leads all players in a number of statistical categories. His 24.6 points per game is the highest by far, and he sets the pace in both total rebounds (11.6 per game) and defensive rebounds (9.0).
He is also top five in blocks (1.4 per game) and three-point percentage (56.3%), while shooting 60.5% from the field overall and adding 1.8 assists per game.
“I’m extremely grateful for having received this,” Peel said. “Despite the slow start to the season, my personal goal is to continue this kind of consistent play as we [Lions] continue to build and return back to our winning ways as a team.”
His standout performances included a monster season-opener of 30 points and 15 rebounds against Worcester, followed by 35 points against Bristol Flyers.
Now in his third campaign with the Lions, it is the second time he has won a monthly award, with the last being for April 2018. He held off the challenge of local rival Matt Scott, from the Royals, who has averaged 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists so far.