Basketball News

Around the NBL – Week 26

It was the final weekend of the regular season across three divisions in the NBL, while the playoffs began in D4.

Division One

With the title and relegation wrapped up on the penultimate week, the final weekend of the regular season was all about sorting the seedings for the playoffs.

Second spot was on the line as Manchester Magic (21-5) hosted Reading Rockets (20-6) and it was the defending champions who claimed it with a 75-71 victory behind Simon Anumba’s 21 points.

Team Northumbria (23-3) wrapped up the league title on the penultimate weekend and closed out the regular season in style with an 82-71 success against Solent Kestrels (15-10) as Blayne Freckleton top scored with 22 points.

Also victorious on the final day were Loughborough Student Riders (15-11) as Josh Ward-Hibbert scored 23 points against his former side as they recorded a 73-84 win away at Derby Trailblazers (16-10), and the two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs.

Loughborough had also beaten Westminster Warriors (2-24) 84-56 on Saturday with the visitors already resigned to dropping into D2 alongside Essex Leopards (6-20) who bowed out on a high as they defeated Worthing Thunder (7-19) 110-113 in an overtime thriller.

Dougie Bennett netted a team-high 33 points with AJ Roberts adding 21 points in a triple-double effort, while Lyonell Gaines had 43 points for the beaten hosts as they narrowly finish ahead of the Leopards.

Also on Saturday, Bradford Dragons (14-12) beat London Lituanica (11-15) 90-86, while Hemel Storm (13-13) defeated Derby 88-72 and Lancashire Spinners (7-18) were edged out 93-95 in double overtime by Leicester Warriors (11-15) with 23 points for Rob Sanders.

Standings: Northumbria 23-3; Manchester 21-5; Reading 20-6; Derby 16-10; Loughborough 15-11; Solent 15-10-1; Bradford 14-12; Hemel 13-13; Leicester 11-15; Lituanica 11-15; Lancashire 7-18-1; Worthing 7-19; Essex 6-20; Westminster 2-24

Playoffs Quarter-Finals
Team Northumbria v Hemel Storm
Manchester Magic v Bradford Dragons
Reading Rockets v Solent Kestrels
Derby Trailblazers v Loughborough Student Riders

Division Two

Kent Crusaders (19-3) secured the D2 title on the final day of the regular season after beating Team Newcastle University (19-3) 67-71 on the road to finish top due to a superior head-to-head record.

The Crusaders set up the title decider with a 62-78 win away at London Westside (11-11) as Amin Adamu top scored with 23 points.

In a relegation battle, London Greenhouse Pioneers (8-14) survived following a 67-79 triumph over Doncaster Danum Eagles (6-16) in Scunthorpe as the hosts drop to D3.

The visitors pulled clear in the second with a 13-27 period en route to victory with Dean Prosenica netting 18 points.

Standings: Kent 19-3; Newcastle 19-3; Thames Valley 18-4; Ipswich 12-10; London Westside 11-11; Nottingham 10-12; Tees Valley 9-13; Derbyshire 8-14; LG Pioneers 8-14; Liverpool 7-15; Doncaster 6-16; Newham 5-17

Playoffs Quarter-Finals:
Kent Crusaders v Derbyshire Arrows
Team Newcastle University v Tees Valley Mohawks
Thames Valley Cavaliers v Nottingham Hoods
Ipswich v London Westside

Division Three

The final two games of the regular season in D3 North took place as Sefton Stars (0-19) suffered two more defeats at the weekend.

Coventry Tornadoes (7-13) recorded a 79-99 victory with 21 points from Lionel Antoni, while Worcester Wolves II (9-11) finished with a comfortable 91-53 success.

Standings: Birmingham Elite 17-3; Chester 16-4; Charnwood 16-4; Stoke 14-5; Birmingham Mets 11-9; Myerscough 9-11; Worcester II 9-11; Sheffield 8-12; Coventry 7-13; Mansfield 2-18; Sefton 0-19

In D3 South, Sussex Bears (13-5) secured second spot with a 64-102 win away at Thames Valley Cavaliers II (1-17) with three players scoring 20+ points for the visitors.

Meanwhile, Oxford Brookes University (5-13) were beaten 86-90 at home to Team Solent Kestrels II (12-5) with Southwark Pride (9-8) claiming a 20-0 win over Sussex on the Sunday.

Standings: Middlesex 15-3; Sussex 13-5; Solent II 12-5; Brunel 11-7; Cardiff 10-8; Southwark 9-8; Greenwich 8-10; Oxford 5-13; Northants 5-13; Thames Valley II 1-17

Playoffs Quarter-Finals:
Team Birmingham Elite v Brunel University Ducks
University of Chester v Team Solent Kestrels II
Sussex Bears v Charnwood Riders
Middlesex LTBC v Stoke-on-Trent Knights

Division Four

Playoffs First Round

Manchester Giants II lost just one regular season game and advanced to the D4 Quarter-Finals with an 88-55 victory over Bristol Storm with Josh Houghton netting 25 points in the win.

D4 South runners-up Middlesex Saxons await in the next round after they recorded a 116-78 success over RCT Gladiators, while Essex Blades saw off Tameside with Wes Flaherty scoring 24 points in the 85-69 triumph.

Swindon Shock edged past Barking Abbey Crusaders 61-55 behind 25 points from Spencer Wells with Northants Taurus beating Warwickshire Hawks 87-81, despite Ashley Dickson’s 37-point haul.

Elsewhere, Cardiff City moved into the last eight with a 59-52 win against Shropshire Warriors and there was a 78-65 victory for Team Wolverhampton with D Mason scoring 32 points to lead his side past London Lewisham-Thunder.

Playoffs Quarter Finals:
Manchester Giants II v Middlesex Saxons
Northants Taurus v Cardiff City
Essex Blades v Leeds Force Academy
Swindon Shock v Team Wolverhampton

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Barry Hearn, Matchroom Launch Basketball All-Stars Championship at O2

Barry Hearn’s Matchroom Sport have launched a new tournament to be held at The O2, prior to the 2017-18 BBL season.

The British Basketball All-Stars will take place from 1-6pm on Sunday 24 September with the five-hour session including the top eight BBL teams and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

The event is coupled with a new netball event that takes place on the same weekend.

“The popularity of basketball and netball is at an all-time high right now,” said Hearn.

“We want to bring this right to the fore with a massive weekend at The O2. We’re bringing fast-paced and exciting formats to generate non-stop action and two unmissable events.

“It’s also about encouraging participation. Both sports are continuing to grow at a rapid rate and for that to continue we must encourage people young and old to get out there and try these exciting sports.

“We want to help with this by bringing both basketball and netball centre-stage for one huge weekend in London.

“By combining the expertise of Matchroom and Sky Sports with those of the British Basketball League we know that we are embarking on something special.”

Further details are still to be worked out, but the proposed format sees two wins needed to advance to the Semi-Finals with games to be played over a shorter format – something Matchroom are renowned for having also created a one-frame shoot-out event in Snooker.

There is a £100,000 prize fund with each team receiving at least £5,000 with the top prize of 25k going to the tournament winners.

The breakdown is as follows:

WINNER – £25,000
RUNNER UP – £20,000
ONE WIN – £10,000
NO WINS – £5,000

Tickets are expected to go on sale next week with BBL members given first choice on Monday 3 April before eventually going on general sale on Friday 7 April.

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Kavell Bigby-Williams Advances to the Final Four with Oregon

Kavell Bigby-Williams is heading to the Final Four after Oregon defeated Kansas on Saturday.

The junior forward becomes the third Brit to make the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament following on from Karl Brown (Georgia Tech – 1990) and Luol Deng (Duke – 2004).

Oregon – the Midwest Region third seeds – led 44-33 at the break and held on to see off the top seeds, Kansas in a 74-60 triumph.

It marks the first Final Four appearance for Oregon since they won the tournament back in 1939.

Bigby-Williams saw eight minutes of action in which time he picked up a point, a rebound and an assist.

Oregon opened the tournament with a 93-77 win against Iona before edging past Rhode Island 75-72 followed by an even closer 69-68 success over Michigan.

The Ducks will face either North Carolina or Kentucky at the University of Phoenix Stadium next Saturday.

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Jermel Kennedy Punches Windmill! BBL Top 10 Plays – Week 26

Check out the top 10 plays from Week 26 of the 2016-17 BBL season, led by Worcester Wolves’ Jermel Kennedy punching a windmill!

Also featuring: Mike Ochereobia, Eric Robertson, Taylor King, Scott Martin, Robert Sandoval, Zachariah Gachette, Andrew Lasker and Malcolm Riley.

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Basketball England Secure £410k Sport England Funding for Talent Development

Basketball England have announced they have received £410,000 from Sport England to implement the Basketball Development Model (BDM) focusing on talent development programmes.

The aim is to increase participation and help transform the pathway to support and help develop young talent at club, regional and national level.

BE have held BDM roadshows across the country to encourage public feedback and have presented their findings from the research conducted in order to secure the funding. It is another boost for the National Governing Body following their £4.7m award from Sport England for the next four year cycle in February.

“The funding support from Sport England is a major boost for basketball at a time when accessing funds for talent is getting tighter,” said BE CEO, Stewart Kellett.

“Sport England continue to recognise the value of our sport to society and we now must deliver our promises to change our practice and deliver the upgrade in the way we develop talent in this country.

“In June 2016, we instigated our BDM research programme and we have engaged many people in the game so we can express the collective views of basketball to our funders, showing that we all want to build.

“This is really starting to work for us now as we can show what needs to happen to support our players better. We will be taking forward the good practice we currently have and make a step change in our approach to raising our standards.

“This funding support has been hard earned by the basketball community – players, parents, coaches, officials, clubs, teachers, administrators and support staff in the sports science/medicine fields and I would like to thank everyone in basketball who has given their time to give feedback, attend meetings and roadshows and get more people in the sport to support the way forward.”

Board member, Steve Bucknall added: “This is great news for all our young players with the aspiration to grow with our great game and fulfil their potential.

“This investment is a welcome boost for basketball and will help improve the way we identify talent and raise the standard of coaching from club level through to the national teams.”

BE also revealed that they will be publishing their talent plans in July to open access to the pathway initiative.

The NGB are awaiting news of one further funding announcement that is expected this month, relating to the support for training and preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

For more info on the BDM, click here.

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Leicester Riders Dominate Plymouth Raiders to Defend Trophy Title

Leicester Riders made it back-to-back BBL Trophy titles after cruising to a 91-58 success over Plymouth Raiders at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow.

A 15-0 close to the opening period put the Riders up by 20 and they never looked back en route to a record-breaking winning margin of 33.

Taylor King came out firing with 13 points in the opening 10 minutes on his way to picking up the Final MVP award as he finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Pierre Hampton added 16 rebounds, while the Riders’ bench imposed themselves with Eric Robertson netting four triples and the British contingent of Drew Sullivan, Andy Thomson and Conner Washington all impressing.

“We set the tone early with some great plays at both ends and I thought the bench was excellent today,” declared Rob Paternostro.

“I’m proud to coach this team – they gave it everything they have got.

“We had the two weeks to prepare and we needed that as we were not 100% healthy coming in.

“I could see that the guys were eager to play and we did a great job.”

King opened the scoring with the first five points and would cap a 15-0 close to the quarter with a three at the buzzer to make it 27-7.

It was a tale of two contrasting defences and while Plymouth did offer a brief rally with a 12-2 run, another Riders surge restored their 20-point advantage before half-time.

The 26 first-half points were a record-low in Trophy Finals history and Leicester’s defence showed little remorse as they continued to frustrate their opponent’s offence.

The Riders pushed their lead past 30 heading into the final quarter and late triples from Shane Walker and Brandon Clark completed the routine win in style.

Box score.

Leicester are strong favourites to add at least one more title to their collection by the end of the season as they currently hold a commanding lead at the top of the BBL Championship.

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Kofi Josephs Pours in Career-High 51 Points

Kofi Josephs had his second monstrous game of the season in Germany on Saturday night after exploding for an incredible 51 points.

The rookie pro knocked down six triples as he went 15-of-23 from the field as well as adding 15-19 from the foul line.

Josephs also contributed five rebounds, three assists and three steals to lead Hertener Loewen to a convincing 75-116 win on the road.

The 25-year-old surpassed his previous best of 49 points – set in January – and is averaging 19.7 points on the season in the German fourth division.

Check out Josephs in action as he goes off for 51!

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Team Northumbria Secure NBL D1 Title

Team Northumbria have wrapped up the NBL Division 1 title after recording back-to-back victories on the road at the weekend.

Marc Steutel’s side snapped the 19-game win streak of Reading Rockets with a 64-76 triumph before beating Westminster Warriors 62-81 on Sunday to seal top spot.

Northumbria went into Sunday’s game knowing victory was enough to wrap up the title having already had the head-to-head advantage over both Reading Rockets and Manchester Magic.

However, their closest rivals both lost anyway with Reading falling to Loughborough Riders, while Magic were beaten by Derby Trailblazers and both sides meet next Saturday to decide second place.

Malcolm Smith top scored with 24 points in the road success over Reading before leading his side with 22 points as they powered past relegated Westminster in the third en route to the win.

Their final game is against Solent Kestrels next week before they head into the playoffs – starting on the opening weekend of April – as the top seeds.

Northumbria complete a season double having also won the National Cup title back in January when they defeated Solent Kestrels 73-56 at the University of Worcester Arena.

Past D1 Winners:
2015-16 – Manchester Magic (23-3)
2014-15 – Essex Leopards (18-6)
2013-14 – Reading Rockets (22-4)
2012-13 – Reading Rockets (22-4)
2011-12 – London Leopards (20-4)
2010-11 – Bristol Flyers (15-3)
2009-10 – Derby Trailblazers (17-5)

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2017 EABL Playoffs – Elite Eight Recap

Check out the recap of the Elite Eight stage in the EABL as the playoffs got underway on Wednesday.

Barking Abbey (1) vs Derby College/Noel Baker School (4)

Barking Abbey booked their spot in the Final Four with a 97-71 win over Derby College/Noel Baker School on Wednesday afternoon at BA.

The short-handed Derby side put up a strong fight but ultimately were unable to overcome Barking Abbey’s depth and pressure down the stretch.

EABL leading scorer Amin Adamu led a BA balanced scoring effort with 19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals as three other players reached double figures. RJ Eytle-Rock had 10 points, 5 rebounds 8 assists and 5 steals.

Adria Amabilino-Perez had an impressive outing for the visiting side, finishing up with a game-high 25, whilst knocking down five threes.

“First and foremost I’m delighted to win and advance in the playoffs,” said BA Head Coach Lloyd Gardner.

“We knew coming in Derby are a difficult team, they’ve got good players, are well coached, players getting real Division 1 experience, getting a lot of minutes and playing big roles.

“They shot it really well in the first half, the reality is, we did well to lead going into the half with the way they shot it in the first twenty minutes.

“I thought we played with good energy, we wore them down a bit late and that helped us push the score out a little bit more. Overall I was pleased with most things we did, we’re going to have to play better as the competition gets tougher and tougher but it’s a good win for us in the first round of the playoffs.”

Barking Abbey advance to face Myerscough next week.

Charnwood College (1) vs John Madejski Academy (4)

Charnwood College Riders advanced the EABL semi finals for the fourth straight year with a comfortable 95-46 win over JMA Rockets.

Sesan Russell scored 24 of his game high 26 points in the first half to lead Charnwood to victory over an injury-hit JMA team, going 9 of 12 from the field.

Johde Campbell (17), Henri Langton (16), Morgan Carter (13) and Temi George (12) all joined Russell in double figures for Charnwood. Ali Sbai and Fidel Gomez led JMA with 12 and 11 points respectively.

Charnwood Head Coach Josh Merrington was complimentary of the visitors:

“Credit to JMA, they had some serious injury trouble and their guys really battled despite clearly playing hurt. They have had a great season and were unfortunate to be hit with so many injuries at this time of year.

“I was happy with our execution on defence today. We struggled rebounding the ball early on but I think we got better as the game went on and were able to limit key players for JMA.”

Charnwood advance to take on Itchen College in their semi-final.

Itchen College (2) vs Bournville College (3)

Itchen College moved into the EABL Final Four with a 68-47 win over a resilient Bournville side on Wednesday.

Adam Riabi would score 10 of his game high 22 points in the opening quarter as Itchen would lead by 12 points going into the second period. The game remained close until a 10-0 Itchen run in the third quarter to pull away, as Bournville were plagued by poor free throw shooting.

Bournville fought back in the fourth, but Itchen were able to keep their composure to pull out a 21 victory. EABL assist leader Sam Van Oostrum had 14 helpers in the win.

“I was very proud of our guys focus and toughness today playing against a gritty Bournville team,” Itchen Head Coach Matt Guymon said.

“A game like this earlier in the season would have seen us lose composure, so its great to see how far we have come.

“Keanen Williams and David Stevic are two of the best guards in the country and we focused in our scout on ways to limit them. To hold them to a combined 7 points, shows how locked in the guys were today and hopefully we can replicate that moving forwards.”

Itchen will face Charnwood in their semi-final.

Myerscough College (2) vs City of London Academy (3)

Myerscough moved into the Final Four of the EABL playoffs following a 74-58 victory over City of London Academy on Wednesday afternoon.

Konrad Kantorski (23) and Spas Nikolov (20 points & 10 rebounds) combined for 43 points whilst Ayo Nuwe (16 & 11 rebounds) and Zion Tordoff (11 points & 14 rebounds) had double figures as a balanced offence overcame a resilient CoLA side.

Gedi Juozapaitis led CoLA’s attack with an efficient 20 points, James Mitchell was the only other CoLA player to have double digits with 11 but it was Myerscough who led from the beginning as they jumped out to a 10 – 3 lead.

“Defensively I thought we were excellent today, CoLA carry threats from multiple positions and have shot the ball well from the outside this year. We kept our concentration and were very mature in our performance”, said Myerscough Head Coach Neal Hopkins.

“This was a good starting point, we have shown glimpses of what we are capable of over the last few weeks but know we have to be more consistent as we move into the next round”.

Myerscough will now take on Barking Abbey in the semi-final as they attempt to make their third straight EABL final.

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Neil Wilkinson Appointed as GB National Instructor for Officiating

Neil Wilkinson has been appointed as the GB National Instructor for referees for the 2017-18 season, British Basketball has announced.

Neil’s responsibilities will include the recruitment, training and testing of National and International referees in preparation for FIBA’s new Competition System and Calendar, which commences this year. Testing will include verbal, written and fitness assessments of our referees, which aims to promote excellence, professionalism, national and international development in refereeing to meet the requirement of modern day basketball.

Neil is no stranger to officiating, having had 26 years experience in the role. Some of his many experiences include refereeing the men’s final at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, the London prepare series in 2012 and of course several games in the BBL and Euroleague.

“Neil’s experience, within basketball, made him the ideal candidate for the role of National Instructor,” said Chief Executive Lisa Wainwright in a statement.

“He will be pivotal to improving the standard of officiating and growing the pool of talent at every level of the game”.

Wilkinson is elated with the role:

“It is with great pleasure that I have taken on the role of GB National Instructor for officiating. There is a wealth of talent within our basketball community that needs to be showcased. We have a tradition of being a strong Nation within officiating and this must be built upon.

“The role not only embraces the pinnacle of our refereeing but is also about bringing together three nations to be one great force within basketball. To date there has been collaboration, though this has been limited. It seem a waste of resources that we work in silos with the same objective. Good officiating in one nation.

“I see my first key priorities to be the resolution of the licensing procedure bringing together English, Scottish and Welsh referees under the umbrella of Great Britain and sharing our talents and expertise.

“Linked to this is the standardisation of our officials’ education through high calibre education, tutorage and coaching. Finally, I feel that we need to develop a three year plan for officiating with clear milestones and targets to ensure that there is a shared vision, effective resourcing within the funding we have and officiating galvanised to improve at all levels.

“I recall a conversation once when asked ‘where I was from’, from a member of FIBA and I replied ‘Great Britain’, their reply was ‘What is great about it?’. They walked off…I would like to help make officiating ‘great’ a key part of our Great Britain.”

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