The stage is set for this year’s NBL and WNBL National Cup Finals at the UEL SportsDock in London this Sunday and with the venue sold out for both games, the atmosphere is sure to be electric.
Those that did manage to secure a ticket can look forward to an all East Women’s Final at 1:00pm as WNBL Division One leaders Essex Blades take on WNBL Division Two high flyers Ipswich. Then at 3:30pm, attention turns to the Men’s Final between NBL Division One sides Hemel Storm and Manchester Magic.
Manchester are no strangers to National Cup success, last lifting the Cup in 2016. Last season the National Cup eluded the North West side but claiming the NBL Division One Playoff crown as well as the National Trophy meant that the flow of silverware continued for this successful Magic side.
Hemel are making their first appearance in a National Final since their promotion to NBL Division One in 2012, but the Storm have every reason to be optimistic on Sunday. 77-55 winners when these two sides met in the league last November, that could give Hemel the advantage. Still, as with any Cup Final, the form guide can be ignored and the best team on the day will likely triumph.
The Women’s Final is an all East affair with both teams geographically familiar with each other despite playing in different divisions. Essex are currently sitting pretty at the top of WNBL Division One with a 9-1 record, and their route to the Final was a smooth one. Even playing Oxford Brookes in the Quarter-Finals, a rival at the top of WNBL Division One, the Blades still came away with a 76-59 win on the road. The league leaders won by 31 in their Semi-Final and couldn’t be in better form entering the Final.
A match up with high flying Essex won’t overawe Ipswich though as they have defeated 3 different WNBL Division One sides on their way to the Final. Their National Cup journey began back in mid-October with a commanding 106-67 win over fellow WNBL Division Two side Northamptonshire Titans. From there, the fairy tale just went on and on. Loughborough Students Riders, Reading Rockets and Bristol Academy Flyers all fell to Ipswich as the Suffolk side time and again showed their class, winning on the road on all 3 occasions.
Speaking about this weekend’s Finals, Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett said, “Congratulations to Essex, Ipswich, Hemel and Manchester for reaching this stage of the National Cup, it is a tremendous achievement. The games on Sunday represent some of the best basketball available outside of the BBL and we’re delighted the Finals have proven so popular with NBL fans. We’re proud to continue supporting and developing our oldest Cup competition and we’re delighted to be able to stream both games live, providing an opportunity for fans to watch across the country.”
If you want to follow either of this weekend’s game and weren’t able to grab a ticket to be there in person, the games will be available to watch on Facebook. Head over to our NBL page by clicking here to watch, and the stream will also be on our main page, available by clicking here.