Playoff Finals 2024: NBL1 & WNBL1 previews, live streams, live stats, interviews

The battle for the final honours of Division One season takes place at the National Basketball Performance Centre on Sunday.

Defending playoff champs Hemel Storm will try to retain their crown against challengers Reading Rockets in the men's showpiece.

That is preceded by the D1 Women's showdown between regular-season winners Endeavour Ipswich Basketball and CoLA Southwark Pride.

There's a preview below of both finals, with live streams as well. Click the red game titles for Live Stats.

WNBL1 Playoff Final: Endeavour Ipswich Basketball v CoLA Southwark Pride - 1pm

Two of the most successful teams in the women’s game go at it to start Sunday’s schedule, as Endeavour Ipswich Basketball and CoLA Southwark Pride clash at Manchester’s NBPC. 

These teams have met a number of times across multiple competitions in recent years, with contests never failing to captivate the attention for one reason or another. 

With a youthful slant to both their rosters, the contest will involve players who have played each other across D1W, but also the WEABL and U18s competitions.  

This season it has been Ipswich who have held the upper hand, taking their first regular-season title since 2020/21, a year when they also won the playoff title with a 60-42 victory against (you guessed it) CoLA Southwark Pride. 

Last month’s WEABL Playoff final went the way of CoLA, winning an 89-84 thriller,  

But there are some important pieces for both teams to add to their regular academy line-ups. 

None come bigger than Ipswich’s Harriet Welham, landslide D1W Player of the Year winner, who averaged a stunning 26.3PPG, 9.3RPG, 4.4APG and 3.2SPG across a lights out campaign. 

Welham collected MVP honours at January’s WNBL National Cup Final when the Suffolk side triumphed against Thames Valley, further highlighting the former guard’s big-game calibre when it matters most.  

Ipswich won the 2020/21 D1W playoffs the last time these teams met in the Final

CoLA can also turn to 24-year-old Chandera Jones-Aryeh, with the talented guard dishing a league second-best 5.0APG to go with 10.4PPG. Her availability this season has been somewhat limited due injury, but her contributions are reinforced by her selection to the D1W British Team of the Year. 

It’s no surprise to see these two teams supply the bulk of this season’s award winners, with Welham (POTY), Christabel Osarobo (DPOTY) and Liv Forster (All-First Team) making the cut for Ipswich, with Welham and Forster also taking up two spots in the British Team of the Year. 

CoLA forward Felicia Jacobs was voted as the league’s YPOTY as well as into the All-First Team and British TOTY alongside Jones-Aryeh, with Jackson Gibbons also collecting the COTY accolade. 

To reach Manchester, Ipswich beat Bristol Academy Flyers 81-60 and Brent Bulls 74-53, with CoLA defeating Reading Rockets 72-56 and Thames Valley Cavaliers 79-66. 

Both these teams match up so well, but only one can secure the victory needed to finish their season with playoff success.  

Endeavour Ipswich Basketball captain Harriet Welham:

“It’s been an incredible season, but it’s not over.  

“We know how good CoLA are and how tough this game will be. We are forty minutes from history and we know that CoLA would love nothing more than to beat us and lift that trophy.” 

CoLA Southwark Pride's head coach Jackson Gibbons: 

"What an honour it is to make the Final for the fourth time in a row, of all the years this is the year we are most surprised to make it.

"We are facing a dominant opponent with arguably the best player the league has seen.

"We have quite the task ahead of us, but with no pressure as the underdogs we hope to go out and give a good representation of ourselves."

NBL1 Playoff Final: Reading Rockets vs Hemel Storm - 4:00pm

Hemel Storm will look to defend their playoff crown as they square off against Reading Rockets in the final game of the NBL season. 

For Hemel, this is familiar territory. Storm may have lost their regular-season crown to Derby but their playoff defence is alive and well thanks to a pair of impressive wins.

A 90-80 success against #6 seeds Loughborough Riders was followed up by a tense 80-79 victory against #7 Bradford Dragons, who were on a roll after ending the hopes of #2 seeds Essex to open the playoffs. 

That means Coach Clark’s team are heading back to Manchester for a fourth-straight playoff final, aiming to pull their record back to 2-2 if they can defeat the Rockets. 

That’ll be no easy task though, with the Berkshire outfit knocking out top seeds Derby last weekend, sealing an 87-84 road win as a follow up to their 90-60 W over Newcastle University the week before. 

That means there will be no #1 or #2 seed in the final this year, a testament to the general strength of D1M this season. 

It does however mean that the majority of the regular season awards have eluded these two clubs to head to the likes of Essex and Derby instead, with just Hemel forward Hakeem Sylla (All-First Team and British Team of the Year) and Reading’s Mitch Clarke (British Team of the Year) collecting any accolades on that front. 

That certainly shouldn’t suggest these teams lack quality, with the likes of Hemel’s Taylor Johnson (who left to join Plymouth before returning), Sam Newman, Hakeem Sylla and more all returning from the unbeaten team of a year ago. 

Former BBL winner Darien Nelson-Henry has been another solid addition, leaving Hemel with plenty of big match pedigree at their disposal. 

Hemel used the Playoff Final to crown a historic quadruple of titles in 2022/23

Reading have been brilliant too, making it to January’s NBL National Cup Final before being narrowly beaten by Milton Keynes, knocking off Derby twice in the last month and splitting their contests with Hemel this year. 

Clarke (15.8PPG, 4.8APG) is a skilled operator at guard who can finish well inside, and the likes of Elijah Maynard (12.6PPG), Lewis Champion (11.5PPG), Jermiah Jenkins (108.PPG) and Zack Powell (10.4PPG) are all high-floor scorers, offering solid baseline production with the potential to take over a game if they can get hot. 

Reading Rockets head coach Samit Nuruzade:

“It’s great to be in the Final, the way we’ve done it, in my opinion, is remarkable.  

“All the credit to the boys, for the last four or five games we’ve been really good in defence, rebounding the ball and scoring against other teams.  

“If you asked me at the start of the season if this would be the case, I wouldn’t have believed you. We work hard and everyone should enjoy this moment.”   

Hemel Storm head coach Mark Clark:

I’m really excited about another big game for Storm.  

“I am so pleased for our group, who have had to deal with a lot of changes and challenges throughout the season. Most importantly, the whole organisation has earned the trip to Manchester.  

“To play another great organisation in Reading, who are really well coached and have a deep roster, it should mean a great game for fans.”