PLAYOFF PREVIEW - Semi-final action marks the last step on the road to Manchester!

NBL Division One

 (1) Team Solent Kestrels v (4) Thames Valley Cavaliers 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 7.00pm

Live Stats

The NBL Division One league champion Team Solent Kestrels took their first step towards adding post-season success to their regular season title with a commanding 100-71 win over Leicester last weekend, cruising into the final four behind 28 points and 11 assists from Herm Senor II. Fellow US import Travis Charles added 21 points and 17 rebounds to the cause, as Coach Matt Guymon's side showed off their offensive prowess with yet another triple digit effort on the board. Looking ahead to this weekend's semi-final tie, the Kestrels will head to St Mary's Leisure Centre on Saturday night to face off against Thames Valley - one of just four sides to pinch a result off the south coast squad throughout the regular season. 

The Cavaliers head into this one coming off a much tighter victory in the 4th v 5th matchup that saw the Derby Trailblazers pay a visit to Uxbridge last Saturday. A narrow game that was rarely separated by more than five points eventually went the way of the hosts when they poured in 30 points in the final stanza, showing off their variety of offensive weapons down the stretch. The high octane duo of Abdoulaye Sylla and Martelle McLemore have caused headaches for defences all season long; and the playoff quarter-final was no different. Sylla paced the West London squad with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while McLemore finished with 22 points in support. Coach Robert Banks will hope Sylla can keep up his recent scoring form, just as he did back in January when he led the Cavs past Team Solent with a 24 point effort. However, now missing a crucial piece front-court piece in Elliott Defeitas may mean it is difficult for the road team to match up with Travis Charles and Tayo Oyefusi on the inside - while Herm Senor II will do his best to keep Prince Lartey and Walid Mumuni busy on the perimeter. 


 (2) Worthing Thunder v (3) Loughborough Riders 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 7.30pm

Live Stats

Another top seed that progressed to the semi-final stage after a high-scoring start to the post-season is the Worthing Thunder who ended the Leopards' season with a 107-85 victory at the Thunderdome. Home advantage sees the Thunder return to their south coast home on Saturday for a late one against their vanquished National Trophy final foes, the Loughborough Riders, who progressed with their own blowout win against Reading. Worthing dominated the Big Cats in the third quarter to pull away, behind a game-high 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists from US import guard Zaire Taylor. Alex Owumi will also be looking to maintain his form from the first round, as the sharpshooting guard added 23 points and seven rebounds to Taylor's effort. 

Meanwhile, Loughborough set up this Trophy final rematch with their aforementioned triumph over Reading, as Coach Mark Jarram's squad sent Rockets' captain Danny Carter into retirement earlier than the Berkshire-based club may have planned. Lucien Cristofis has had an impressive season thus far for the Riders, with a National Cup final MVP and BUCS Championship final MVP already under his belt, and was similarly as vital for Loughborough in the first round with a team-high 15 points and four rebounds. With a multitude of offensive weapons to lean on, Coach Jarram also looked to Jonas Dieterich, Niall Harris and Reis Pinnock for key contributions against Reading, and may yet still get a breakout game from Hosana Kitenge or Alex Roberts as the post-season continues. Having grabbed a 71-97 victory over Worthing behind Cristofis' 26 points back in December, Loughborough will be hoping for a repeat of that performance - rather than the disappointment of the 58-105 loss in March when Zaire Taylor dropped a road quadruple-double. 


WNBL Division One

 (1) Bristol Academy Flyers v (5) Reading Rockets 

Sunday 14 April 2019 - 12.00pm

Live Stats

Bristol Academy Flyers will continue their route towards adding playoff success to their regular season championship when they take to the floor for a Sunday matinee game this weekend. Coach Gareth Till's squad took a commanding quarter-final victory over Barking Abbey by setting the pace early with 29 points in the first period as they built a 20 point half-time lead. Despite a stronger start to the second half by the East London-based visitors, the South West side regained composure and pushed their lead out further down the stretch, behind a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds from veteran guard Liisa Juul. Showing off their range of options, Mai Zilbeti, Cristina Bigica and skipper Fiona Fox all joined Juul in double digits; with Bristol furthering cementing their status as one of the deepest teams in WNBL Division One.

In a shocking turn of events, the travelling side who complete this matchup at SGS WISE Arena on Sunday are the Reading Rockets, who progress to the semi-final stage after a successful appeal of their quarter-final loss to Loughborough. Following the Riders' 63-58 victory over Reading, it was found that Loughborough played an ineligible player and the result was overturned; seeing the Berkshire-based side make their way into the final four (the full statement regarding this game protest can be read here). Having been offered a life-line in their post-season play, Coach David Sanchez' side will hope for a better offensive effort than last weekend, only putting 58 points on the board with Monica Herranz De Antonio leading the way with 13 points. 


 (2) Anglia Ruskin University v (3) Team Solent Kestrels 

Sunday 14 April 2019 - 5.00pm

Live Stats

Completing the WNBL Division One semi-finals are Anglia Ruskin University and Team Solent Kestrels, who face off on Sunday evening in a matchup of the two closest sides to come up short in the title race. Having led the chasing pack for almost the entirety of the regular season, Anglia Ruskin will be hopeful that they can return to the WNBL Division One playoff final where the Rhinos came from behind to grab an unlikely win over Essex Blades last campaign. An 83-65 win over Southwark Pride was the first step on that journey last weekend, as Nadege Talva exploded for 25 points and six rebounds. A game of runs eventually went Anglia Ruskin's way, when Coach Michael Hanson-Morris' side put together an important 11-2 run that spanned the third quarter break to establish a decisive lead. 

Meanwhile, the squad making the trip out to Cambridge for this Sunday evening semi-final action is the Team Solent Kestrels, another side that staked their claim at the league title - but came up just short over a long regular season campaign. After navigating a tricky first round tie with Ipswich via an 89-70 victory, Coach CJ Lee's side now head on the road with hopes of punching their ticket to Manchester with an upset result. Geena Gomez will be crucial on both ends for the south coast squad, as Coach Lee will rely on his US import guard to lead the way on the scoreboard, especially coming off another 20 point effort against Ipswich, while she will also need to slow the Rhinos' impressive guard play. In a tied head-to-head season series, Gomez poured in 53 points over the two meetings, while Nadege Talva was the leading scorer for Anglia with 42 points - a crucial matchup on the perimeter to be closely scrutinised on Sunday. 


NBL Division Two

 (1) Liverpool v (5) Myerscough College 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 6.30pm

Live Stats

Liverpool's dominant campaign continued into the post-season last weekend as Coach Delme Herriman's side got the playoffs underway with a 103-72 victory over London Westside. With Coach Frank Lamptey's side only just having edged their way into the post-season to earn a trip to the league champions, it was clear from the start that the Merseysiders' overwhelming talent level was ready to overpower their visitors. The lead ballooned to as many as 38 points after a hot start from the home side, as all five Liverpool starters scored in double digits. The long-time one-two scoring punch of Jack Hudson and David Ulph led the way with 21 and 18, respectively, while young Archbishop Beck forward Dante Sofia also added 18 points. With there seemingly very little on paper standing between the undefeated league champions and a spot in the playoff final, they will still need to navigate this weekend's tie to book their ticket to Manchester.

As the only road team to grab a victory last weekend, Myerscough College will head into their semi-final matchup full of confidence as they only bottom four seed to have an upset to their name this post-season. With Sussex Bears holding the home advantage in their 4th vs 5th matchup, Myerscough overcame the long road trip to the south coast to grab a 50-77 triumph, behind 14 points from sharpshooter David Walsh. The much shorter trip from Lancashire to Merseyside pits the two North West sides from the NBL's second tier head-to-head, a matchup that has already occurred three times this campaign. The two teams first met in the season opener for both sides in the Patrons Cup group stage, when Liverpool bagged a 75-86 road win to progress to the semi-finals stage, behind 28 points from star big man David Ulph. Liverpool completed the league season series as part of their unblemished regular season with a 60-76 win in November, followed by a 108-83 victory in March. 


 (2) Westminster Warriors v (3) London United 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 5.30pm

Live Stats

The opposite side of the draw in NBL Division Two sees a cross-capital encounter between Westminster and London United, as both sides progressed from similar derby matchups in the quarter-finals. For the Warriors, their progression from the first round came via an 89-74 win over the East London All Stars, behind player-coach Jon Johnson exploding for 34 points and 14 rebounds. The Patrons Cup champions now need just one more win to punch their ticket to a second straight final this season, hoping to add yet more silverware to an already impressive campaign. With two wins out of two in the season series against United, Coach Johnson's side will be full of confidence that they can grab the result they need to be heading to Manchester later this month.

Meanwhile, London United picked up a convincing 95-60 win over cross-capital rivals London Greenhouse Pioneers last Saturday, as a balanced attack got the job done for Daniel Szatkowski. Kevin Szczawinski notched 18 points to lead six players in double figures, as Marius Talijunas also finished with an impressive double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. With little success against the Warriors this season, the odds are definitely stacked against the West London side in this one - but with plenty of weapons at their disposal, anything can happen on the day, especially in the highly competitive NBL Division Two.


Around the NBL Playoffs

Division Three Men

 (S1) London BC Medelynas v (N2) Team Derby Spartans 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 6:00pm


 (S4) Essex Blades v (S2) Team Solent Kestrels II 

Sunday 14 April 2019 - 4:30pm


Division Two Women

 (S1) Thames Valley Cavaliers v (N2) Derby Trailblazers 

Saturday 13 2019 - 3:30pm


 (N1) Nottingham Trent University v (N3) Worcester Wolves 

Saturday 13 2019 - 4:00pm


Division Four Men

 (SE2) London Thunder Lewisham v (SE1) Chelmsford Lions 

Saturday 13 April  2019 - 2:00pm


(SW1) Bristol Hurricanes v (N2) Doncaster Danum Eagles 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 5:30pm


For full Scores & Schedules for this weekend's action, click the link below: