KitKing Trophy 2023/24: Quarter-finals on tap as eight will become four

There are four high-quality quarter-finals in the KitKing Trophy this weekend.

The remaining field will narrow from eight teams down to four by the end of the weekend, setting the stage for the semi-finals later in the season.

With the group stage now completed, it's all to play for as one team is now just three wins away from claiming the 2023/24 KitKing Trophy.

We take a look at all four games below, including defending champs Hemel Storm taking on D2M standouts Milton Keynes.

City of Birmingham Rockets vs Bradford Dragons

City of Birmingham Rockets sailed through the group stage with a perfect 3-0 record, knocking off Milton Keynes, Nottingham Hoods and Loughborough.

Forward Sam Toluwase earned himself a Player of the Week nod in the process, and the newly-promoted team finished their trio of games with an impressive points difference of +46.

Tomorrow they take on a Dragons team that came through as runners up in Group 4, trailing only Derby Trailblazers in the final standings.

Guard Justin Williams (18.3PPG) has continued the shooting prowess that saw him crowned as D1M's scoring champ last season, and his contribution this weekend will surely play a big part in Bradford's quest to reach the semi-finals.

Reading Rockets vs Essex Rebels

Reading are the only side in this year's competition to win their group without going undefeated, instead using a 2-1 record and a three team tiebreaker with Barking and Worthing to come out on top.

That shouldn't detract from the Rockets' performances in Group 1 however, including strong wins over Worthing and Brighton before coming unstuck last Sunday against Barking.

Zach Powell (fifth) and Elijah Maynard (sixth) both currently sit in the top ten for efficiency following the group stage, showing the standard of basketball they're playing for the Berkshire outfit right now.

Essex were unfortunate to be grouped with defending champs Hemel, but aside from their loss to the Storm, the Rebels did well across their pool games.

Elias Poorman appears to be settling into his new surrounding as he averages a KitKing Trophy fifth-best 6.0APG, allowing the likes of Trey Chapman (18.0PPG) to shine on offence.

Derby Trailblazers vs Barking Abbey

Former champs Derby Trailblazers will be looking to reclaim the KitKing Trophy this year, but first they'll have to see off a plucky Barking Abbey side that upset the odds to make the quarter-finals.

BA looked to be on the outside looking in as Group 1 moved into its final game, but an 86-82 road win over the then undefeated Reading Rockets saw Barking do just enough to squeeze into second spot once all was said and done.

Sam Akano's efforts at both ends of the court in that game saw him recognised in the Rebound Team of the Week, and the Londoners will need more of the same if they're to get another win this weekend.

Reigning Player of the Week Sam Masten impressed last time out as he continues a bright start to his Derby career, averaging 5.5APG and 20.0PPG in the group stages along with teammate Jonas Dieterich, who also averages 20.0PPG.

Former MVP Malcolm Smith (18.5PPG, 7.5RPG, 4.0APG) is ticking along nicely and will no doubt continue to be an important part of the DTB offence.

Hemel Storm vs Milton Keynes Breakers

The weekend closes with a marquee match-up between defending champs Hemel Storm and much-fancied D2 outfit Milton Keynes.

Despite not currently possessing a spot in the top flight, the Breakers' roster contains more than enough talent to sit at the top table, with group stage wins against Loughborough and Nottingham serving as reasonable evidence.

Dante Langley (19.0PPG) currently sits ninth in the competition's top ten players for points per game, whilst Jordan Spencer (18.5PPG, 8.0APG, 6RPG) has also excelled.

All three of the top efficiency performers from the pool stage belong to Hemel, with Sam Newman (#1), Hakeem Sylla (#2) and Seth Swalve (#3) all standing out for coach Mark Clark's team.

It's worth noting that Milton Keynes have given up 84.5PPG during their three games to date. Matching up against a Hemel team that averages 95.7PPG, that could lead to a high-scoring clash to end the weekend.

This weekend's fixtures - live stats and live streams

Saturday 30 September

7:30pm - City of Birmingham Rockets vs Bradford Dragons - LIVE STATS / LIVE STREAM

Sunday 1 October

4pm - Reading Rockets vs Essex Rebels - LIVE STATS / LIVE STREAM

5:30pm - Derby Trailblazers vs Essex Rebels - LIVE STATS

6pm - Hemel Storm vs Milton Keynes Breakers - LIVE STATS

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