The next pieces of NBL silverware will be handed out this weekend as attention turns to UEL Sportsock for the NBL Senior Cup Finals. Contesting the National Shield final are London BC Medelynas and the University of Chester, the top dogs in NBL Division Three South and North, respectively. Meanwhile, Westminster Warriors are hoping to repeat their success in the Patrons Cup last season when they take on Ipswich. Finally, the National Trophy final sees Loughborough Riders with a chance to pick up a second title to add to their National Cup success from a few weeks ago when they face Worthing Thunder; a battle of two of the top teams in NBL Division One.
S E N I O R C U P F I N A L S 🏆— NBL (@NBLengland) 7 February 2019
We're just a few days away from this year's NBL Senior Cup Finals at @UELSportsDock!
Here's a preview of the National Trophy, Patrons Cup and National Shield.
Read more HERE 🔗 https://t.co/1QARzP7rkq#TogetherWeAreBasketbALL pic.twitter.com/zTaHlz8Huc
For a detailed preview of the Senior Cup Finals, click the link below for a breakdown of the matchups!
Read on for your usual roundup of the league match-ups taking place this weekend!
Leicester Warriors v Hemel Storm
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 3.00pm
After a surprising win on the road at Reading Rockets last weekend, the Leicester Warriors will be hoping to continue their solid run which has seen them pick up three wins out of their last five. The victory at Rivermead was paced by 34 points from Raphell Thomas-Edwards, as he continues to put up eye-catching numbers since his mid-season addition to Coach Karl Brown's outfit. The East Midlands' squad will be hoping for much better fortunes when these two meet on Saturday afternoon; the game being a blowout win for Hemel in the early season.
Meanwhile, it was an exciting double victory weekend for Hemel Storm when the defeated Team Newcastle and Worthing Thunder a week ago. The Saturday evening home matchup against Newcastle narrowly went their way in a game where the lead changed hands numerous times, before they then outlasted the league's second-placed side in a double overtime thriller. Bode Adeluola was instrumental in the victory over Worthing, dropping 41 points in 50 minutes of play - a well-deserved winner of the NBL Player of the Week award this past week. The two wins have done wonders for Hemel's league positioning, seeing them leapfrog Team Newcastle and climb out of the bottom two. However, the Hertfordshire side will need to continue to pick up results if they are to keep themselves away from a relegation battle down the stretch.
Barking Abbey Crusaders v Nottingham McDonalds Hoods
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.00pm
A good first half performance from the Barking Abbey Crusaders pushed Loughborough to produce a good second half effort to defeat their visitors from East London. Coach Lloyd Gardner's side started well against the National Cup champions, but didn't have enough coming out of the half-time interval, as the hosts went on a sharp run to decide the contest. Kyle Carey showed he has found his feet since his mid-season signing with the Crusaders, shooting a perfect nine-for-nine from the floor en route to 20 points to lead Barking. Coach Gardner will need this production to continue down the stretch, combined with the ever-improving play of his young core, if the Crusaders are going to keep themselves away from the relegation battle and into the playoff race.
The other side to fall to Loughborough last weekend were Nottingham McDonalds Hoods, as the Riders completed a home back-to-back with two wins - bizarrely both by the exact same scoreline. It was a similar story to their Saturday afternoon action, as the Riders used a dominant third quarter to pull away and secure the spoils. Delaney Powell had 20 points to lead the Hoods on that occasion, as the East Midlands side fell to 7-9 on the season, but retain ownership of the eighth and final playoff spot for now. Coach Ryan Westley will be hoping for a repeat performance of when these two faced off back in October, when the Hoods cruised to a double-digit victory, despite a late challenge from Barking.
Bradford Dragons v Derby Trailblazers
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.15pm
A side that will be disappointed to not be appearing in the National Trophy final this weekend after falling at the semi-final stage, the Bradford Dragons continue their league campaign by hosting the Derby Trailblazers. The New Year has not been kind to the West Yorkshire side, as they are without a win since the the turn of the year, dropping their first four encounters of 2019. The last success for Coach Chris Mellor's side was their memorable home victory before Christmas when they downed Team Solent Kestrels thanks to a Rihards Sulcs buzzer beater - but that exciting win will feel like a long time ago for Dragons' fans.
After dropping three in a row to start 2019, the Derby Trailblazers seem to have got their season back on track after picking up wins in their last three matchups. Most recently was last weekend's win over Essex Leopards, as the Blazers did the double over the Big Cats with some decisive play down the stretch to pull away. A healthy 10-7 record sees Coach Matt Shaw's side currently in fifth place, well positioned to challenge for a top four spot down the stretch in a congested race between third and sixth. Derby will be hoping they can repeat their success against Bradford back in the early season, when dominant second and third quarters saw them pull away for a commanding home win.
Manchester Magic v Essex Leopards
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.30pm
The forgettable season for Manchester Magic continued last weekend with back-to-back losses at the hands of Team Solent Kestrels and, their opposition again this week, the Essex Leopards. Despite a 23 point, 11 rebound double-double from Richard Bell, the Magic were unable to compete with the league-leading Kestrels; the south coast team taking a dominant win on the road. However, the Magic can take pride in a much closer contest last Sunday when they travelled to the Brentwood Centre, competitive until half-time, when a third run by the Big Cats proved decisive. With their last, and only, victory this season dating back to November - it has been a long drought for Magic fans this season, which Coach Simon Fisher and his side will hope to end on Saturday at the Manchester Basketball Centre.
Meanwhile, the visitors in this one had their own double-header last weekend - mixed results, having picked up a disappointing loss on the road on Saturday before returning to Brentwood. The loss away at Derby saw Sam Newman lead the Big Cats' effort with 19 points, but it was the overall second half effort from the Leopards that meant they couldn't pick up two-from-two last weekend. After a tricky start to the season, following their late addition to NBL Division One, Essex find themselves in a solid position as the season begins to build towards its climax. Holding the seventh spot with an 8-8 record, Essex now have a foundation to build upon, with a mixed schedule to close out their season still to come.
🏀 Manchester Magic vs Essex Leopards— Manchester Magic (@Mcr_Magic) 7 February 2019
📅 Saturday 9th February
📍 at Manchester Basketball Centre
🕔 at 6:30pm
🏆 #NBL1819 Div One
🎟️ Ticket prices Adult: £5, Children & Concessions: £2.50, Family (2 adults & 3 children): £12.50
ℹ️ Full details: https://t.co/jaYuJoHVMq pic.twitter.com/ZavwNYpFj9
Essex Leopards v Reading Rockets
Sunday 10 February 2019 - 2.00pm
Sunday's action in NBL Division One tips off with Essex Leopards completing their weekend double-header, hosting the Reading Rockets at the Essex Sport Arena following their trip to the North West the night before. The last time these two sides faced off, the Big Cats stole a result on the road at Rivermead, bringing their season record against the Rockets to 2-0 after a victory in the National Trophy group stage back in November. If season form is anything to go by, Coach Thomas Baker will be very hopeful of another good result that may see the Leopards leapfrog the Rockets in the standings.
Last weekend saw a performance to forget for the Reading Rockets, as they fell to Leicester on their home floor in a disappointing result. The loss was the Rockets' second in a row, so Coach Alan Keane and his side will be hoping to bounce back from their recent struggles in this Sunday matinee matchup. The story since the turn of the year has been the continued dominance of AJ Carr and Trae Pemberton, as Reading's imports seemingly have not struggled with their production. However, the diminished play of the rest of the roster will be a cause for concern for Coach Keane and his staff, especially since the Rockets have notably been missing the services of point guard Adrian O'Sullivan of late.
Barking Abbey Crusaders v Thames Valley Cavaliers
Sunday 10 February 2019 - 4.00pm
The final game of the NBL Division One weekend sees Barking Abbey Crusaders complete their home back-to-back by hosting fellow London squad Thames Valley Cavaliers. An evening battle against Nottingham McDonalds Hoods a night prior sets up this Sunday afternoon matchup, a contest where Barking will hope to improve upon their lacklustre performance on the road at Uxbridge College earlier in the season. Facing each other for the first time this season just two weeks ago, it was the Cavaliers who came out on top with a dominant win, behind a strong defensive showing from the West London side.
Thames Valley return to action in the league with this matchup after their scheduled fixture last weekend against the Reading Rockets fell foul to a postponement. With their last action coming against their opponents in this one back on their home floor a fortnight ago, Coach Robert Banks' side will be full of confidence that his squad will be able to get the job done again and do the double over the young Crusaders squad. Their first season is the top flight has been an eye-catching one, as few would have expected the Cavs to break into the top four this early in their plight in NBL Division One. The 10-4 record which sees them holding onto fourth place may just be the start, as both the Cavaliers and Riders position themselves for a run at the top spot if either of the south coast titans, in the Kestrels or Thunder, are to slip up down the stretch.
Team Solent Kestrels v Reading Rockets
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 3.30pm
With neither of these two sides having seen the floor last weekend, both squads should be well rested and ready for a battle on the south coast. The last action for Team Solent Kestrels was their road trip to Loughborough a fortnight ago, where the Southampton-based squad quickly brought the Riders back down to Earth after their National Cup victory the week prior. The Kestrels were paced to their single point road win by 24 points from Geena Gomez, as Coach CJ Lee's side withstood a late run by their hosts to grab the win and improve to 8-3 on the season. Holding third place as things stand, the Kestrels are ready to keep up the pressure on the league-leaders - able to capitalise on any slip-up and get right back in the title race.
Their opposition in this one are a Reading Rockets' side who had a week away from league action last weekend when heavy snow in the Berkshire area scuppered their travel plans for a road game at Ipswich. Their last two contests have both been bitter disappointments for Coach David Sanchez and his side; an overtime loss at home against Southwark Pride, and falling to Loughborough Riders in the National Cup final. Hoping for a result to get their league campaign back on track, the Rockets are in need of a few wins down the stretch to have a chance of climbing into the playoff spots.
Barking Abbey v Southwark Pride
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 4.00pm
Despite snow stopping play on Saturday, Barking Abbey were able to make it out to Suffolk last weekend for their matchup with Ipswich. The hosts kept rolling as they extended their unbeaten run and sent Barking home with a tough loss after a dominant second period. Jolicia Cadogan had another good performance in leading the young Barking Abbey squad, pacing her team with 21 points and seven rebounds on the day. With their record at 4-10, at eighth in the standings, a few more wins down the stretch may be all that is needed to grab a playoff spot in a congested lower half of the WNBL Division One table.
The cross-capital rivals making the trip out to East London for this one are a Southwark Pride squad that have had a tough start to 2019, with the only bright spot being an overtime win on the road at Reading. With just one win in their four outings since the turn of the year, Coach Jackson Gibbons' side need a change in their fortunes to hold on to their spot in the top six - with just five games to play, three against top four sides. Having led them in scoring all their last three matchups, point guard Megan Haines is one to watch in this contest - with her squad hoping she can replicate her recent form.
Loughborough Riders v Sevenoaks Suns II
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 4.30pm
Snow stopped play last weekend for the Loughborough Riders, as they were unable to make it to their road game at Bristol Academy Flyers. With the harsh weather cleared, the Riders have a home tie with Sevenoaks Suns II, as they face a fight to regain their place back in the top four. It is going to a run of home comforts for Coach Krumesh Patel and his Riders' side down the stretch, as five of their final seven fixtures will be played on their home floor. The East Midlands side need just a few results to go their way to solidify their place in the playoffs - hoping to secure home advantage in the first round.
Meanwhile, making the trip up to Loughborough from Kent is a Sevenoaks side that grabbed their first win of 2019 a week ago, with a tight home win over Team Birmingham Elite. The victory saw the Suns pick up their fourth win of this campaign, improving to 4-9 on the season and holding on to the seventh spot. Sevenoaks went on a sharp run to start the fourth and kept their cool down the stretch by nailing key free throws in the clutch to take the spoils. Up-and-coming guard Asha Andrews knocked down five triples on her way to a game-high 27 points in a breakout performance; well-needed for the Suns, with Katie Bennett not having featured recently.
Team Birmingham Elite v Ipswich
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.00pm
The final two games of the WNBL Division One weekend sees Team Birmingham Elite in home double-header action, and they first host Ipswich on Saturday evening. Since ending their season-long drought with a win over Southwark to head into the Christmas break on a high, the West Midlands side have gone on a three-game skid. Most recently, their narrow loss on the road at Sevenoaks was a tough result to take - and they will need to bounce back quickly if they are to compete with an in-form Ipswich side in this one.
Ipswich roll into town high on confidence, with a four game win-streak under their belt and climbing the standings week-by-week. Last week's victory saw the Suffolk-based side break into the top four, a spot they can solidify with a good result in this matchup. Reigning WNBL Division Two MVP Harriet Welham has been on a hot-streak lately, leading her side in scoring in each of their last three outings, with two 30+ point games to her name in that run. If Elite are to have any chance of a result in this one, they will need to key in on Welham and hope that she does not have one of her trademark games from behind the arc.
Team Birmingham Elite v Barking Abbey
Sunday 10 February 2019 - 2.00pm
After their Saturday evening action against Ipswich, Team Birmingham Elite will be back in action on Sunday afternoon to complete their home double-header by welcoming Barking Abbey. With the East Londoners also completing a back-to-back, fatigue may play a factor in this one. As a battle of two of the bottom three sides in the league, the result of this one may play a factor down the stretch when the jostling begins in the bottom few spots.
Greenwich Titans v London Greenhouse Pioneers
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 3.00pm
Greenwich Titans' last action came a fortnight ago when a rough second quarter allowed Derbyshire Arrows to pull away and take victory on their home floor at the Dronfield Sports Centre. A tough first half of the season saw the Titans sitting on a single win, having a difficult welcome to life in NBL Division Two. However, a narrow triumph over London United in their second game back from the break will give the newcomers hope of a stronger second half - but they need results fast to avoid the drop back to Division Three.
Meanwhile, it has been a season of two halves for the London Greenhouse Pioneers, who have struggled to regain their hot form of November and December since the turn of the year. Posting three back-to-back losses, Coach Predrag Krneta's squad will need to rediscover the rhythm that got them on their streak before they begin to slide further down the standings. Now tied for third place with a surging Sussex Bears side, the Pioneers could do with a result in this one against the league's basement side to get their second half back on track.
Myerscough College v Sussex Bears
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 3.30pm
Myerscough College came through as winners in a last-minute thriller last weekend against London Westside, as late game heroics from Rayon Brown and Mate Okros closed the deal in the final seconds. The win saw Myerscough improve to .500 on the season at 6-6, as the Division Two newcomers hold on to the fifth spot after a solid campaign thus far. A win in this one against the team directly above them in the standings could pay dividends at the season's end when head-to-head results may come in to play.
Sussex Bears make the long trip up from the south coast to Lancashire for this one, in hope of continuing the form that has seen them win three of their four games thus far in 2019; pushing Liverpool all the way in their sole loss. Now in the top four, Coach Gary Smith's side will need to keep up the results to retain this lofty position, with a chasing pack that includes East London All Stars and their opposition in this one, just one win behind.
London United v East London All Stars
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 4.00pm
Another of many cross-capital battles takes place on Sunday at Alec Reed Academy when East London All Stars make the trip to visit London United. Having picked up two single digit losses already since the festive break, United will be looking to leave nothing to chance in this one, needing a result as they hope to retain their spot in the lower rungs of the playoff race. The last outing between these two sides dates back to the opening day of the season, when Dovydas Rudik paced United to a solid win as they got their season off to a good start.
The visitors who make the journey to West London are an All Stars side coming off a loss to league-leading Liverpool, despite pushing the undefeated Merseysiders pretty close with a solid effort on their home floor. Another side jostling for position in the lower half of the playoff race, East London find themselves just one win behind third place, with loads to play for down the stretch in this Division Two campaign.
London Westside v Liverpool
Saturday 9 February 2019 - 6.15pm
The final matchups that wraps up Division Two play on Saturday evening, clearing the way for the Patrons Cup final on Sunday, sees Liverpool travel down to London Westside in the hope of keeping their undefeated streak alive. With their last victory coming back in November, Westside may have little to offer to stop the North West juggernaut, but they did provide stern opposition for the other North West side in the league last weekend. Myerscough's late game heroics was all that stood in their way, unable to close out the game and pick up a key win that would have broken the tie at the bottom of the table.
Meanwhile, as Liverpool's superb run continues, the superlatives to describe this team are beginning to run out. Pulling off a strong win on the road at East London All Stars last weekend, the Merseyside squad were without star big man David Ulph, relying on their expert guard play to get the job done. Coach Delme Herriman continues to show off the weapons at his disposal, with multiple options to pick up the slack, even when one of their stars misses out on the action. With the pressure of a perfect league season continuing to build, time will tell if we will see a slip-up, could Westside be the lower ranked team to pull it off?
SENIOR MEN UPCOMING FIXTURE— Westside Basketball (@londonwestside) 7 February 2019
🏆 @NBLengland Division Two
📆 Saturday 9 February
🏀 @londonwestside vs @LBCBasketball
🕑 6.15pm#WeAreWestside #GameTime #NBL1819#TogetherWeAreBasketbALL pic.twitter.com/aVCJ4SkUKm
For full Scores & Schedules for this weekend's action, click the link below: