Junior National Cup Semi-Finals Preview - 27 & 28 January 2018

Under 18 Men’s National Cup

Canterbury Academy Crusaders v Manchester Magic

Saturday 27 January 2018 – 7.30pm

Canterbury Academy Crusaders (7-6, 6th Premier South) head into their semi-final match-up after a convincing win over Bristol Academy Flyers on the road at SGS WISE Arena. The Kent-based side face a Manchester Magic (9-3, 4th Premier North) team that defeated local rivals Myerscough College to reach this stage of the competition, flipping history on its head after Myerscough knocked them out of the cup last season. Crusaders’ Head Coach Billy Beddow is enthusiastic about his side reaching the semi-final stage, “The boys are extremely excited to play against Manchester in the semi-final. We know they are a very talented team, the likes of Michael Anumba and Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo will be a great test for us. It's a good opportunity for the boys and us as a junior club because it's our first time getting this far in the Cup. We will prepare and give everything we have to win a spot in the National Cup finals”.

Coach Billy Beddow rallies the troops – Canterbury Academy Crusaders 

Charnwood College Riders v Haringey Hawks

Sunday 4 February 2018 – 1.00pm

Charnwood College Riders (11-3, 2nd Premier North) knocked off a talented Team Birmingham Elite side in the quarter-final behind 32 points from Niall Harris, while Haringey Hawks (8-1, 1st South I Conference) defeated fellow London squad Southwark Pride to progress to the semi-finals. Riders’ Head Coach Will Maynard is pleased to have reached this stage, “Being in a cup competition is always a lot of fun, knowing if you win you advance and if you lose you go home creates a great atmosphere for a game. A chance to play in a cup final would be an amazing achievement for our programme, and as a first-year coach I would love the opportunity to play in the cup final, so I will prepare the players as best as I can and hopefully we will achieve our goal.” Frank Batimba, Haringey Head Coach, has admitted how much this competition means to his team, “The cup run has meant a lot and we have worked really hard to get to this point. Some of the players have been with me for a few years now and have played a big part in us getting to this stage. They deserve this”. Batimba continued, referencing the upcoming clash, “I believe the semi-final will be very competitive, they are a respected team, I just need to ensure that my team is ready.”

Haringey Hawks attack the rim against West Herts Warriors – Haringey Hawks


Under 18 Women’s National Cup

Charnwood College Riders v Sevenoaks Suns 

Sunday 28 February 2018 – 4.30pm

Both sides in this tie have had successful seasons so far as Charnwood sit top of the North Conference (11-1), while Sevenoaks are undefeated leaders of the South East Conference (8-0). The Riders escaped a tricky matchup in the quarter-finals, as they narrowly defeated Southwark Pride behind an explosive fourth quarter performance. Sevenoaks eased into the quarter-final behind a dominant performance against Team Gloster Jets. Charnwood’s Niamh Kelshaw thinks the unity in the Riders camp is vital, “I feel as though the season is going very well for us, for a bunch of girls that have never played together I think that we have clicked instantly. From my point of view seeing the girls as family helps a lot when we are on court and so far the results are showing that.” Imogen Cook echoed this message, “I think this will be the most challenging game that we have come across so far but we believe in each other, and ourselves, to perform and I will back us against anyone in this league!”

The  Riders bring star power into their game this weekend – Joe Pinchin

Oaklands College Wolves v Myerscough College Spinners

Sunday 28 February 2018 – 4.45pm

Oaklands College Wolves head into the semi-finals high on confidence, after scoring 100+ points in each of the rounds to date, as they knocked off Solent, Southend and Sheffield. The young Wolves are only entered in the cup this season, as many of their young guns feature in the WBBL, so they will head into the tie battled tested against senior competition. Myerscough have had a tumultuous year in NBL U18 Women, as the squad sit 5th in the North Conference (8-5). Head Coach Barney Blake admits this, “Our season in NBL U18 Women has been up and down, which is why we are very excited at the prospect of continuing our cup run. The wins so far in the cup against Manchester Mystics and Reading Rockets, two very established programs, have been impressive; we hope to continue that on the road at Oaklands.” Myerscough Captain Milly Knowles references the team’s continued growth this season as a key factor, “Our season has been purely about the development we are making as a team and individuals, whether this be on court or off court. We’ve been finding out what style of play is best suited to us, and I think we have finally found it. A big area of emphasis within our team is effort, so getting this far in the cup is a big reward for all our efforts put in so far, it really shows us how we are progressing as a team.”

The Spinners have an experiences roster at their disposal – Allen Gunn / 31&Sevens Photography


Under 16 Men’s National Cup

Manchester Magic v Haringey Hawks

Sunday 28 January 2018 – 3.00pm

With both clubs also featuring in the U18 Men’s National Cup semi-finals, Manchester Magic and Haringey Hawks have shown their pedigree in youth men’s basketball this season. Haringey (15-0, 1st Premier South) will be looking to go back-to-back in the National Cup, after picking up the trophy in 2017; while Manchester (10-1, 1st Premier North) will have their eyes on taking one step closer to the trophy, after falling at the semi-final hurdle last season. Hawks’ Head Coach Frank Batimba is focusing on team work to get the job done, “The boys work really hard and they deserve to be where they are. It would mean a lot to myself and my team as we work hard as a unit to win every competition that we enter. Our players have the ability to influence this match, but as long as we play as a team, that will be the key factor.”

Haringey Hawks driving to the basket – Haringey Hawks


 Mansfield Giants v Sussex Storm

Sunday 28 January 2018 – 1.30pm

In the other semi-final, Mansfield Giants (9-3, 2nd Premier North) host Sussex Storm (10-3, 3rd Premier South) in another tasty North vs South matchup. Mansfield Head Coach Dan Richards is happy about the exposure this cup run has given his team, “We have had a good season so far, with some good results, not so good results, but more importantly the boys are growing into hard working respectful young men. This cup run has really provided the platform and exposure for Mansfield to really get on the map, and means a great deal to the Mansfield community. It will probably be a close game, it’s just one game so anything could really happen. It’s about us preparing the best we can and performing on the day.” Storm Head Coach Daniel Hildreth is excited at the prospect of the cup semi-final, “It’s great to have an opportunity to reach a final and the cup competition is the first chance for a team to do so. We are still as ever focusing on one game at a time and play a league fixture on Saturday, so that will be our priority until the game finishes and we can turn our attentions to Sunday’s cup fixture.” Coach Hildreth continued, “It’s a one-off game with a lot at stake, so emotions will be high and there are so many factors which can and will affect the outcome. Having only played Mansfield once before, two seasons ago in the U14 play-off quarter final which we lost, we will be hoping for revenge this time round.”

Mansfield have been flying high in the Premier North this season – Mansfield Giants


Under 16 Women’s National Cup

Haringey Angels v City of Sheffield Hatters 

Sunday 28 January 2018 – 11.30am

It will be an early morning trip for the City of Sheffield Hatters (7-8, 3rd Premier) as they travel to London to face a tough Haringey Angels side (11-1, 1st Premier). Both clubs knocked off perennial powerhouses in their quarter-final ties, as the Angels defeated Sevenoaks Suns, while the Hatters narrowly beat Manchester Mystics. Haringey have gotten the best of Sheffield in their two matchups thus far in the Premier division, most recently with a dominant result last weekend at Greig City Academy. Hatters’ Head Coach Walter Campbell is looking forward to a competitive matchup, “In a season in which we have been involved in a lot of good competitive games, the squad are relishing the prospect of a tight game with Haringey.”

Sheffield Hatters in action against Brighton Cougars – Sheffield Hatters

Ipswich v Surrey Goldhawks 

Sunday 28 January 2018 – 2.00pm

After impressive performances in the quarter-finals, both Ipswich (8-3, 4th Premier) and Surrey Goldhawks (5-8, 8th Premier) will be confident heading into their semi-final matchup. Ipswich got the best of Surrey in their Premier division matchup back in October, but the sides will have a much more recent memory of each other by the time Sunday’s semi-final comes around – after facing each other in the league the previous day! Goldhawks’ Head Coach Joe Cahill reflects on their season heading into the double-header, “It has been a mixed season with the formation of the new nationwide Premier division. The standard of the league is high and every game is competitive which is great for the girl's development but means that consistency is key to being successful. Success in the cup fixture will be very much dependent on how well we can protect the paint and limit the second chances. Ipswich have a kept the majority of a successful team from last season. They have athleticism, good size and push the ball ahead really well. They have talented players who are competing for national team spots in the summer and some who were part of Women's National Cup winning team last weekend.” Ipswich Head Coach Hayley Rigby similarly pays tribute to the ability of their opposition, “The season so far is going better than we could have anticipated, where we have won games against teams for the first time since the players have started their basketball career for Ipswich. We played Surrey right at the start of the season and it was definitely a game of two halves, Surrey have multiple players that we will be looking to shut down.”

Ipswich will be tough to beat on their own court – Nick Winter