The top teams in the CBL, WEABL and EABL go head to head for the right to be crowned champions.
MK5D Shenley Brook End and Bracknell & Wokingham College face off in the CBL final, it's City of London Academy v Itchen College in the WEABL and the day closes with the EABL battle between Barking Abbey and Myerscough College.
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Shenley Brook End or Bracknell & Wokingham College will be able to etch their name on the CBL trophy for the first time, with both teams making their first ever CBL final.
It will also be the inaugural final for the newly named competition, with the tournament being rebranded from the Academy Basketball League (ABL) to the College Basketball League ahead of the 2022/23 season.
With Shenley Brook End winning Tier Two’s Group A and Bracknell & Wokingham sealing Group C, neither side has met this season, adding an extra layer of intrigue to this year’s showpiece.
Shenley are still unbeaten this season, going 12-0 in the regular season before adding back-to-back playoff wins against #8 Carmel College and #4 Haringey Sixth Form College.
Bracknell & Wokingham tied with Haringey at the top of Group C with an 11-1 record, taking top spot via the head-to-head tiebreaker. They’ve built on that record with wins against #6 Nottingham Academy Wildcats and #3 The Crest Academy, punching their ticket to Manchester’s NBPC.
Both teams were well represented in their group’s end of season awards, with Robertas Barkauskas and Billy Beddow winning MVP and Coach of the Year honours in Group A, whilst MK5D captain William Issekya was a Team of the Year selection.
Myers Amoo-Gottfried was the Group C MVP, with father Martin claiming the coaching honours from Bracknell & Wokingham. Co-captain Gabe Romero-Sanz was included in the group’s Team of the Year as well.
MK5D Shenley Brook End head coach Billy Beddow said: "The team is so excited to have made the final.
“It's been an amazing year for all our teams in Milton Keynes, but this U19 academy team is particularly special.
“Last year, we started the basketball academy and unfortunately didn't make the playoffs. Due to their hard work, we now get to compete in the finals.
“We have played Bracknell at U18 Premier level, they're a talented and well-organised team. We are looking forward to having a really competitive game with them and representing Milton Keynes as best we can."
Shenley Brook End captain William Issekya said: "I'm super proud of the team, we've really wanted to achieve this and have been working for it all season.
“Personally, I'm excited for the opportunity to help MK5D Shenley Brook End to be the first CBL champions."
Bracknell & Wokingham head coach Martin Amoo-Gottfried said: “We are all very excited about reaching the CBL final.
“It is a culmination of three years of hard work. I’m very proud of what the players have achieved and want them to enjoy this moment.
“I look forward to a tough game against a very good team.”
Bracknell & Wokingham co-captain Gabe Romero-Sanz said: “Last season, we didn’t get where we wanted to be and I feel like this year we have really shown what the team has to offer.
“None of us enjoyed the feeling of coming so close to winning it all and this season we are where we are supposed to be. Winning Group C and being in the CBL finals is where BWC deserves to be.
“We have a huge chance of making history for Bracknell and I am confident that we will perform to our fullest.”
The WEABL Final is an all-Southern Conference affair between two teams who know each other well.
For #1 seeds CoLA, this is familiar territory. WEABL winners in 2021/22, 2019/20 (co-champs with Copleston) and 2016/17, the London programme were also beaten finalists in 2018/19, making this CoLA’s fifth final in the WEABL’s eight-year history.
On the other end of the spectrum, this is not only #4 seed Itchen’s first trip to the WEABL’s championship game, but their first appearance in the playoffs.
After entering the league in 2018/19 following wins in both the AoC National Cup and National Championship, the South coast programme have gone from strength to strength in recent seasons, with the upcoming final demonstrating the progress made in the last five years.
CoLA, conquerors of Sheffield College and Oaklands in the playoffs, only lost once in the regular season but it was a 78-68 defeat in Itchen, with the Londoners sealing their home game 70-49.
That means it’s all to play for in the third and final instalment of what has been a great match-up, with plenty of the league’s top talents on show.
Itchen, who upset Nottingham then Copleston on their way to the final, can count the South MVP Faye Endean in their ranks while Erin Caldwell is an All-Conference Second Teamer.
CoLA are led by South Coach of the Year Jackson Gibbons while Emily O’Connell and Ana-Isabel Andersson are in the All-Conference First Team and Ebere Egbirika the second team.
CoLA Coach Jackson Gibbons said: “We are blessed to reach another WEABL final and we are coming up against the hottest team in the country in Itchen College, with arguably the best player.
“They have had an epic season and we know we are up against a formidable team. We hope to give a good account of ourselves and regardless of the end-result, the team feels blessed to be able to play on this prestigious big stage again.”
CoLA player Emily O'Connell said: “Our team has had a very testing season. We've had so many moments of growth to get us to this point and we feel excited to be back in Manchester once again with a different group from last season.
“We lost to Itchen in the first game of the season and so we are certainly not taking them lightly and respect them greatly.”
Itchen Coach Vicky Milner said: “We started with this group seven years ago, the majority coming through our newly formed programme. To get to the WEABL final with the group that started it all is incredible. It is a testament to how hard they have worked and continued to step over the obstacles thrown at them.
“We will prepare for this game in the same way we have the others. The girls are ready to compete and show what they are capable of.”
Itchen captain Faye Endean said: “Our team making the final is a true underdog story, no one expected us to get this far but we know how hard we’ve worked for this. The final game will be a real challenge but it will be good for us to showcase what we’re capable of.”
The two #1 seeds go head-to-head in the EABL Final.
Northern champs Myerscough College and Southern Conference winners Barking Abbey meet in Manchester as two of the most successful teams in competition history.
Barking are four-times champions, Myerscough two – with the rivals sharing the title in the 2019/20 season when COVID-19 restrictions meant the final wasn’t played.
There will be no such issue this time, with both teams coming off the back of impressive regular seasons – Barking were 12-1 and Myerscough 12-2.
Their previous meeting before the final that never was came at the Final Four stage of the 2018/19 season, with BA squeezing through 63-58.
Barking have been runners-up once previously and Myerscough three times - including last season - so both know all about life on the big stage.
Myerscough secured their second EABL final berth in as many years as they beat #3 seeds The Manchester Magic Academy.
‘Sco had previously swept aside Canterbury Academy in the Elite Eights round.
Barking ended reigning champs Charnwood’s campaign with a home win at the Final Fours stage.
That followed an Elite Eights victory over Derby College Trailblazers which got their post-season moving.
There will be plenty of talent on display at the National Basketball Performance Centre. Both establishments are committed to a team basketball ethos.
But both have outstanding individuals.
South MVP Nedas Cholevinskas and Ignas Juskveicius will be amongst Barking’s players to watch. The pair are both in the top 10 in the efficiency rankings, while All-Conference First-Teamer Michael Amako and Brennan Geoghegan also figure highly in the three-point shooting category.
Myerscough’s Asante brothers Peter, an All-Conference first team pick, and North Defensive Player of the Year Stephen are among the top assist-makers in the league.
Barking Abbey head coach James Vear said: “It's always great to make a national final, we are excited to play against a very good Myerscough team.
“I think it will be a great game and great advert for academy basketball."
Barking Abbey player Jamari Seri, named on the All Conference second team, said: “I am excited for the game because it gives me and my team-mates a chance to perform on a big stage and show everybody what we’re capable of.
“We have a chance to make Barking Abbey history.”
Myerscough head coach Troy Culley said: “Making it to the national final is a real testament to our team's growth, synergy and the effort the group have put in to get to this point. As we gear up for the championship game, it's cliche to say but we have been really locked in on the defensive end which has been a foundation of us playing some of our best basketball at the right time.
“I feel it's going to be an exciting, hard-fought contest and as a group we're eager to embrace the challenge.”
Myerscough captain Euan Birch said: " It's great for the team to reach the final and see all the work we have put in over the season paying off to get us to where we wanted to be. I would expect it to be a tough, physical game but that is natural when you have the two number one seeds in the country.
“We have been playing well lately and really locked in as a group and I am confident for the challenge."
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