After cutting the 2019/20 campaign short and then being forced to cancel the entirety of 2020/21, this season represents a return to some form of normality across the Academy leagues.
The ABL final between Haringey and Dagenham Park is set to get tomorrow underway, tipping at 12pm, before Nottingham take on CoLA in the WEABL final at 2:30pm. The final game of the day is the EABL final between Northern conference rivals Charnwood and Myerscough, with that game set to get underway at 5pm.
We've got previews, live stats and live streams for all three games below, providing fans with everything they could need ahead of the big day.
The Academy finals from Manchester’s National Basketball Performance Centre get underway with the ABL final between Haringey Sixth Form College and Dagenham Park.
With no competition in 2020/21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with the 2019/20 season cut short before the playoff final due to lockdown restrictions coming into force, this season represents the first chance to crown stand-alone champions since 2018/19.
Haringey were the victors during that 2018/19 season, beating St Charles College 107-90 to claim their first ever ABL title. They added the shared title from 2019/20 when their final with New City College couldn’t be completed, meaning tomorrow's outing represents a chance for a third consecutive ABL crown.
For Dagenham Park, they’re in uncharted waters. Having never reaching this stage before, a victory would be an upset against their more experienced opponents, but no less than is deserved after a spotless regular season.
Going a perfect 14-0 to win the Eastern Conference at a canter, coach Maslen’s side closed with a hefty +/- of 628, creating an average margin of victory of nearly 45 points across the campaign.
Not to be outdone, Haringey also went 14-0 to conquer the London Central conference and their 641 point differential suggests a level of dominance during the regular season greater than even Dagenham could impose.
Both teams have eased through the playoffs for the most part, booking their place in tomorrow’s showpiece following some impressive performances. Haringey reeled off consecutive 26-point wins against Queens School and former winners St Charles, though they were made to work against Northolt High School last week, eventually scraping by 71-69.
There’s been no such issues for Dagenham, who opened their playoff campaign with a commanding 103-59 victory against Crest Academy before knocking out Bracknell & Wokingham College 98-65.
Their final four clash with former co-champions New City did produce a closer score line, but tomorrow's finalists would ultimately prevail 89-70.
As you would expect from an end of season spectacle, both these teams have plenty of talent at their disposal. Haringey’s Chukwudi Dioramma was a popular choice for the London Central’s MVP, with guard Kamali Taylor also picking up the Most Improved Player award.
The accolades didn’t end there, with Dioramma also picking up the U17 Player of the Year award, whilst Haringey Coach Franck Batimba was also recognised.
Dagenham had an equally impressive representation in their own conference’s end of season honours. Guard Brandon Tchouya and Haydn Ling both received All-Conference First Team nods, with Tchouya also picking up the Defensive Player of the Year title.
Wing Klaudijus Pakalnis has a bright future ahead of him after being earmarked as the U17 Player of the Year, and former EABL winner with Barking Abbey Pierce Maslen was named Coach of the Year.
🎟 Get your free tickets for the Academy Finals Day at NBPC, Manchester on Wednesday 👇https://t.co/MU71ZjmoD3— Basketball England (@bballengland) March 28, 2022
12pm: Haringey Sixth Form 🆚 Dagenham Park
2.30pm: CoLA 🆚 Nottingham Academy Wildcats
5pm: Charnwood College Riders 🆚 Myerscough College#GameTime pic.twitter.com/v3VMpVNl75
In an even contest between two sides who have very much become accustomed to winning, fans are sure to be in for a treat as the 2021/22 ABL playoff title is decided to kick off tomorrow’s trio of games.
Haringey head coach Franck Batimba: “I am proud of the boys for making it this far. They have worked hard all season and deserve to be here. The job is not done yet. We know we have to come to Manchester ready. This our 3rd consecutive ABL final and we are determined to win.”
Dagenham Park head coach Pierce Maslen: “It’s a great achievement for our guys to be here and reflects all the hard work they have put in throughout the year. We are proud of having a lot of success within our first year in full competition and will be looking to build on this in the future. We will be doing what we have done all year, we’ll play our game and the rest will take care of itself.”
Two teams with perfect records enter, but only one can remain as Nottingham Academy take on City of London Academy for this season’s WEABL playoff title.
Both teams have been dominant in their respective divisions, taking on all comers to not only win, but do so by some impressive margins.
Going 12-0 to sweep the Southern Conference, CoLA built their success on the stingiest defence in the WEABL. Allowing an average of just 36.4 points per game, the London programme can be ferocious on D, making life hard for any opponent.
That was also the team’s calling card the last time they won a playoff title in 2016/17, beating Charnwood College Riders in a low-scoring grinder, coming out on top 40-31 to seal their first crown.
The London programme have since added another title, being named co-champions with Copleston High School during the shortened 2019/20 season when the COVID-19 pandemic ruled out the possibility of completing the campaign.
It robbed players and fans alike of what would have been a much-anticipated clash between two well matched sides, though a return to action this year and a chance to get back on court is welcomed by all concerned.
We are going to the National Finals!!!!— Nottingham Academy Wildcats (@AcademyCats) March 23, 2022
Our @WEABL team win against a great @Oaklandsball team today, 63-55.
😼 @MaisieEvison_5 - 15pts
😼 @mariamolawoyin_ - 14pts
😼 @PraiseEgharevba - 13 pts
Congrats Girls!!! 😁
NEXT UP —> NATIONAL FINAL!#AcademyCats pic.twitter.com/i0iCDz3N38
After missing the debut season of the WEABL in 2015/16, Nottingham joined the fold a year later and have been a staple ever since.
Although success proved elusive for the programme’s first three years, a one-win season in 2018/19 was converted to a second-place finish in the Northern conference in 2019/20 and a maiden trip to the playoffs.
Hosting a game at the Elite Eight stage, Nottingham entertained none other than CoLA, with the visitors leaving with a narrow 54-50 victory. Some players remain from that playoff clash for both teams, adding an extra level to tomorrow’s contest and raising what are already some pretty high stakes.
As you’d expect from two teams who went unbeaten during the regular season, both these sides were well represented in the WEABL awards process.
CoLA’s Isi Ozzy-Momodu has enjoyed a standout season and was a unanimous choice for the conference’s MVP award. The talented forward also got the nod as Defensive Player of the Year, whilst coach Jackson Gibbons was also singled out for a fifth Coach of the Year award in the last six seasons for his role in the successful campaign.
Guard Funmi Amode, like Ozzy-Momodu, received All-Conference First Team honours, with forward Molly Lavin converting her WEABL leading 59.3% True Shooting rating into a second team slot.
In German national Praise Egharevba, Nottingham has a legitimate match winner. The 6’3” forward led the WEABL in efficiency (29.3), points per game (22.7) and rebounds (16.3), though she did miss time earlier in the season through injury, limiting her opportunities.
Egharevba collected an All-Conference First Team spot alongside teammate Mariam Olawoyin, though they were Nottingham’s only selections for seasonal honours despite not tasting defeat throughout the regular season.
Both teams will no doubt be heading to Manchester with dreams of ending their year on a high, but only one will be victorious. Will it be Nottingham, claiming their first ever WEABL title, or CoLA, moving onto a league leading three playoff titles?
In a fitting end to tomorrow's schedule, the EABL final will involve two conference rivals going head-to-head as Charnwood do battle with Myerscough.
Bringing the curtain down on the Academy showpiece, these teams are all set to decide their season series after one win apiece during the regular season.
The pair split their encounters, each winning their home leg. Charnwood secured a nail-biter in the Midlands 68-66, whilst ‘Sco’s 92-79 home victory was the Riders’ only loss of the regular season.
The two teams have regularly traded blows at the top of the Northern Conference for a number of seasons, and taking their battle to Manchester for what is sure to be a stunning final will provide a fitting end to what has been a brilliant campaign.
Both programmes have also managed to win it all and claim the EABL playoff title during their history. Myerscough won their first title in 2014/15, the competition’s second season, as they beat SGS College 70-56.
The win marked a dominant season for the North West side that continued into 2015/16. That year’s final saw Charnwood topple tomorrow’s opponents, beating them 73-62 to end a streak of almost two years without a loss.
The Riders would then take a turn to step to the fore, winning in 2018/19 against Barking in what is widely regarded as the greatest comeback in EABL history.
Down 63-44 with 10 minutes to go, Charnwood reeled off a 31-0 fourth quarter to claim their second title in spectacular fashion.
Myerscough were named as co-champions with Barking during the COVID-19 affected 2019/20 season, pulling them level on two titles apiece with the Riders.
Head Coach Will Maynard thoughts ahead of the 2022 @OfficialEABL final, this coming Wednesday!— Charnwood Basketball (@CharnwoodBball) March 28, 2022
'we've got a really deep team which has been a huge success of ours this year'
📺: Access full interview https://t.co/3TaCZb2zZW#BritishBasketball pic.twitter.com/LozsRwF3DZ
With both teams combining to win 25 of their possible 28 games this season, tomorrow’s final is a match up between two even teams with plenty of talent at their disposal.
Myerscough’s Bryan Akanmu was able to land the Northern conference MVP award, after coming third in total efficiency (23.3), fourth in scoring (19.4PPG) and seventh in rebounding (10.4RPG).
He also dropped a match winning 39 points when these teams last met a month ago, so he’ll enter the final with plenty of confidence to keep his good form going.
Charnwood enjoyed a heavy representation in the end of season awards, with Kanu Gudza, Louie Jordan and Victor Ndoukou all making the North’s 1st team.
Wing Ceejay Hanson was tabbed as the conference’s Most Improved Player, whilst Gudza also received the Defensive Player of the Year award. That’s no surprise given his league-leading 4.4 steals per game this season.
There’s little to pick between these two sides, who are more than familiar with each other and match up well whenever they meet.
With their season series currently tied at 1-1 and with both programmes enjoying two EABL titles to their name, one team will stand tall come tomorrow evening, earning valuable bragging rights after another title winning campaign.
Charnwood head coach Will Maynard: “Really looking forward to what the final has in store for us, it’s looking like it’s going to be a very competitive game and I’m sure it will be a great showcase for the EABL.
“The guys have put in a huge amount of work over their time at Charnwood and they will very much be up for the challenge. It’s been a difficult couple of years for all juniors in British basketball, I’m sure neither team will take this opportunity for granted.”
Myerscough head coach Neal Hopkins: "Not so long ago we were talking about 'unprecedented times' and the impact that this would have - I think it is important to recognise the hurdles that have had to be jumped by everyone to get to this point. The EABL has given us our normality back and I am very proud of the resilience that we have shown, reaching the final is a huge achievement considering the last two years, it is something we are relishing.
“I am sure the game will have everything in it, Charnwood are a highly talented team who will come into to the game with a lot of confidence, we are coming off the back of a really strong end to the season and we are hungry to end it the right way.”