EABL: New season nears as Barking prepare to defend their title

The new EABL season gets underway on 11 October with Barking Abbey looking to defend their title.

The Londoners claimed the crown in 2022/23 following a 75-60 win over Myerscough in last year's final, and BA are looking forward to a shot at a sixth title ahead of the upcoming campaign.

"We are looking forward to another EABL season and defending our title," said BA head coach James Vear.

"It will once again be a really hard league with lots of great teams and coaches."

That was a sentiment echoed by Harry Godwin, who currently enjoys a place on the BE Talent Pathway and represented GB U16s in 2021/22. He said: "We can't wait to start another year in the EABL. We're excited to play together again, we have had a great pre-season which has allowed us to get ready for the year."

The loss of standout talent Nedas Cholevinskas, who has signed a pro-contract in Lithuania, will hurt BA, but the return of finals MVP Moziah Danchie plus Godwin, Ethan Conway and Amarlie Wilkinson is sure to soften the blow.

Elsewhere, beaten finalists from a year ago Myerscough have recruited exciting guard Tyrese Lacey, who comes to the North West programme after two years at Layton Christian High School and a successful stint with the GB U18s this past summer.

Six foot 5ins forward Harry Sheehan is also in the mix, though the likes of Peter and Stephen Asante, Denilson Caschili and Euan Birch have all left the programme.

"Last year, we reached the final after winning the North Conference and having a strong start to the post season," said head coach Troy Culley.

"Although we fell to Barking, we're returning strong this season with a solid core and some exciting new additions. We're ready for the challenge ahead and are determined to go one step further this year."

Itchen College made the post-season a year ago and will be hoping to make it three trips in a row in 2023/24 after the addition of talent pathway players Jakub Ofman and Dawid Cimochowski.

"We are looking forward to another season in the EABL, we've got a young and exciting group that we feel can really develop over the course of the year", said Itchen head coach Matt Guymon.

"Our guys have been able to get extended time on the floor together during the pre season period, which has helped to integrate a number of new students to our programme."

Manchester Magic made it to the Final Fours a year ago and will be hoping to go one step further this year following the return of notable contributors Joe Buchanan and Matt Goodwin, though talented guard Ben Brown has now graduated from the programme.

"We have a fantastic group of players and characters this year and we are looking forward to testing ourselves against the best U19 programmes in the country," said head coach Peter Paraskeva.

Charnwood joined Manchester and Myerscough as one of three North Conference teams that made up last year's Final Fours.

The Riders have lost Lane Campbell, Lamarana Diallo and Dan Hadley from that team, but Edward Onyia, Oscar Curran and Caiden Ross are all notably returnees for the Midlanders.

"We have a good unit here at Charnwood this season, everyone is on the same page and working hard to accomplish our goal which is to bring an EABL Championship back to Charnwood!" said head coach Louis Chamberlain.

JMA's Isaac Round (5.0APG in 2022/23) has been joined by brother Ethan, whilst Joshua Haworth (16.9PPG in 2022/23) is back for another season with coach Nuruzade's side.

"All I have asked from my players so far is to play with competitiveness, heart, and grit, and I am hoping this will put us in a good position in all games this season," said Nuruzade.

"We have a lot of work to do but I am confident we can play the way we want to and get back into the top four of the conference."

Four time EABL coach of the year Matt Shaw is taking a voyage into the unknow with a relatively inexperienced Derby roster as the team tries to kick on from a one-and-done playoff campaign last year.

"We have a lot of returning players, with quite a few who haven't got lots of EABL experience yet - and its going to be fun to see how they do in what is one of the best league anywhere in youth basketball," admitted Shaw, who welcomes standouts Elliot Lawrence and Isaac Thorpe back to Derby this year.

"We have a little more length than in previous seasons and we will be challenging the guys to have our best-ever defensive season in the EABL."

The EABL season begins on 11 October with six fixtures, split evenly between the North and South conference.

Derby head to Manchester in the North, whilst BMET host SGS College and rivals Myerscough and Charnwood do battle once again in Lancashire.

Defending champs Barking head to CoLA to get their season underway, Copleston entertain Oaklands, whilst Canterbury vs JMA is the only other game in the South.

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