With eight U16 and U18 teams from across the land all looking to secure the first silverware of the Jnr. NBL season, fans are sure to be in for a treat across the four finals.
We've got a preview of the games below, including live stream and live stats links for those wanting to follow all the action.
Tickets can still be purchased for the event but act fast, this needs to be done before tomorrow's cut off point ( 11am on Friday 21 January 2022)
The weekend starts with an intriguing North v South contest as Manchester Mystics take on GCA Haringey Angels.
The Mystics can enjoy a break from their battle with Lancashire Spinners at the top of the U16 North conference, with both teams currently sat at 8-0, for a shot a cup glory this weekend.
Their opponents are also unbeaten this season though, with the Angels sitting pretty at the top of the South 1 division thanks to their spotless 9-0 record.
Straight-forward wins against City of Birmingham, Mystics II and Sheffield Hatters led the North West side to a road semi-final against Richmond, which they narrowly claimed 65-60.
Haringey have enjoyed a similar path to the final, with victories against London Thunder, St Albans and Harris Federation Knights Croydon, before triumphing 57-51 away to Bristol in another gripping semi-final.
Both teams are enjoying stellar campaigns in 2021/22, but only one team can take home the first silverware of the weekend.
“I'm really proud of the way this group has come together throughout the season. They have shown a true 'we, not me’ mentality which has allowed everyone to be confident in themselves, believe in their abilities and enjoy their time competing together.
"It’s been a real privilege as a coaching staff to be able to be part of the team and their individual journeys.”
“I‘m incredibly proud of the team as we have shown great resilience and growth over the past two years. Reaching the Sure Shot National Cup final is the accreditation of the work we have put in and I hope that the girls enjoy every second of the experience as they showcase their skills on the national stage.”
Beaten finalists in 2018/19, Richmond Knights will once against try to capture the Sure Shot U16 Boys National Cup as they take on Islington Panthers.
Richmond are currently fourth in the West Premier, but their 6-1 record has them in with a shout of top spot should they be able to win their games in hand.
Islington are a more curious team to gauge. With the bulk of their current U16 National Cup roster playing their league minutes in the U18 competition, their U16 team is currently 0-10 and bottom of the South 4 conference.
It’s worth noting that Islington’s U18s are 6-1 and top of the South 3 standings, however.
The Knights have been largely untroubled en route to the final, with just one of their five games being less than a double-digit victory.
Richmond’s cross-Capital rivals have also enjoyed a relatively simple path to the final, with four comfortable wins and a bye before a nail-biting semi-final. The Panthers made their road trip to Manchester worth it though, stealing a 73-70 win and a spot in today’s final in the process.
"I’m proud of the boys and what they have achieved. They set goals at the start of the season and one of them was to make the National Cup final.
"Four months later we are representing Richmond in the National Cup final. Wow!”
"I am happy and proud of the team to have made it to the Sure Shot National Cup final. The team respects each other and the game and have learnt that hard work is rewarded; if you lose, you learn to pick yourself up and try again which will eventually result in success, not only for yourself but the whole team.
"The last couple of years with the pandemic has been a challenge for individuals and basketball - I am proud of the team to have made it to the finals."
Familiar foes CoLA Southwark Pride and Ipswich will lock horns once again on Saturday afternoon as the two teams vie for the Sure Shot U18 Women’s National Cup.
Southern Conference rivals in the Women’s Elite Academy League (WEABL), the two teams also contested last season’s WNBL Division Playoff Final, with Ipswich sealing the D1W crown last May.
The Suffolk side are the current holders in this competition after a 60-57 victory against Reading in 2019/20, whilst CoLA last won this competition back in 2016/17.
Both these teams currently sit in the four-team South Premier, but with only one game played up to this point, a better comparison could well be WNBL Division One.
With largely similar rosters, Pride are currently 12-0 unbeaten leader’s of the WNBL’s top tier, having also beaten Ipswich 60-48 in their only meeting so far this season.
Still, in cup basketball, anything is possible, and this is an Ipswich programme that knows how to get the job done.
“We are very proud to have made the Sure Shot U18 National Cup final, some of our girls have played in this game as U16’s and we hope that experience will serve us well this time around.
"We are a close group of girls and this season together will be our last, so we are hoping to end things the right way. We are really looking forward to the game.”
“Making it to this final mean so much to all of us, both as individuals and as a team. We’ve worked hard, been getting better all season and we’ve put ourselves in this position because we’ve had each other’s backs and built great team character.”
North Premier leaders Manchester Magic take on Sussex Storm for the Sure Shot U18 Men’s National Cup, providing a fitting end to Saturday’s action.
Magic will be hoping to utilise some partisan local support and after losing the 2017/18 final to Charnwood, their fans will no doubt be eager to see the North West outfit go one step further here.
Sussex have been struggling with indifferent league form this season, their 3-3 record is only good for 10th in the Eastern Premier, including losing two of their last three games.
Storm’s cup form has been excellent by comparison, with wins against Islington, Surrey Rams, London Greenhouse and Team Solent Kestrels, with the pick of the bunch being a stunning 86-78 semi-final win against Western Prem’s Charnwood College Riders.
Manchester have also had to work in recent rounds, with a 66-62 quarter-final victory against local rivals Myerscough being followed up by a tricky 94-86 semi-final win on the road against Bracknell Cobras.
Saturday’s action will close with our fourth champions of day one, but will the U18 trophy be staying up North or heading down South?
“This team has worked very hard over the season to get to this point and we are extremely excited to part of a National Cup final, especially after so long without competition during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“I feel like we have come a long way as a team as we have faced many challenges, especially during the cup run. Many of us have been together since U14s so it is going to be a special occasion competing in a final with this group.”
For further updates across the weekend, head over to the NBL social channels on Facebook. Twitter and Instagram. Links to the platforms are available below.
16 May 2022
09 May 2022