LONDON UNITED

London United Basketball Club History

Formation

London United basketball has its roots in a junior programme called Ealing Tornados which was established in 1996 by Jack Majewski. The club in its present form was established in 2002 following a merger between the Ealing Tornados and their local rivals the North London Lords which at that time were led by David Schiller. Both founders of the respective clubs became first directors of the newly created club

Ealing Tornados in their short history were a very successful team in the lower leagues, winning several consecutive promotions .They also made an impression on the junior scene winning the U17 National Cup (1997) , two consecutive U18 National Championships (2000, 2001), U20 National Cup (2001) and U20 National Championship (2002). When the merger took place at the end of the 2001-02 season, Ealing Tornados had just finished as runners-up in NBL Division 1 (now known as EBL Division 2) behind the Derbyshire Arrows. It is only fair to mention that the meteoric rise of Ealing Tornados would not be possible without the sponsors and part owners for 3 years, software company Finsoft.

Further successes

Playing as London United, the successes continued with promotion to EBL Division 1 achieved just a year later (2003), winning the U20 National Championship in the same year.

United spent a further three years in Division 1, with their biggest success coming in 2004-05 when they finished as runners-up, again piped to the title by the Arrows. The logical progression for the club was to join the fully professional British Basketball League in July 2006. This decision was certainly hastened when the London Towers withdrew from the 2006-07 season, leaving London without a professional basketball team.

The big step up          

For owners the step-up meant finding a new venue, as well as recruiting more able players and finding corporate investments to fund the venture into the BBL. Majewski’s first step was to hire Tony Garbelotto to control on court proceedings. Sponsorship soon came, in the way of international money transferers MoneyGram, and a suitable venue was found at the Space Centre near Hackney. A mass influx of British players strengthened the ranks of United, with major signings including internationals Chris Haslam and Tarick Johnson.

London played their first BBL game on September 30, 2006 on the road at Leicester Riders. Despite trailing 73-52 at the end of the third quarter, a last gasp effort and a 29-6 run resulted in an 81-79 victory for the rookies. Things became even better and after three consecutive wins for a short while United was heading the BBL league table. Sadly London United was not able to maintain the blistering pace from the beginning of the season but still finished in a play-off qualification place with an 11/25 record. Here, they were defeated narrowly by BBL Champions Guildford Heat. Tarick Johnson finished as the BBL’s top-scorer with over 800pts at an average of 23 per game. Johnson was also voted by BBL coaches into the BBL “All-Star” Team of the season.

The successful campaign on the court could not mask mounting financial problems. It was announced on September 5, 2007, just two weeks prior to the new season tipping-off, that London United’s directors and the BBL had agreed to withdraw the team from the upcoming campaign.  United’s situation was certainly not helped by the fact that their headline sponsor, MoneyGram, had endured financial difficulties of their own and were forced to withdraw their sponsorship. Without enough funds to compete, the club had no option but to ‘park’ the franchise, Sadly also withdrawal from BBL marked the end of David Schiller acting as a Director of London United.

Resurrection

The setback did not wipe out the London United brand from the basketball landscape. London United Basketball re-established itself at Richmond upon Thames College in order to concentrate on developing young elite basketball players and subsequently joined forces with Spelthorne Atoms Junior Basketball Club to create an extensive Junior Programme under the London United Basketball Club umbrella which enabled the Club to reach all age groups from Under 10s through to Senior Level. Working with young players yet again became the most important part of the clubs DNA.

The senior team competing in Division 4 was based on junior players from Richmond College and greatly benefited from the support of veteran players like Andy Harper, Richard Wellings and Daniel Szatkowski who at that time started his long association with the Club. This squad promptly won two consecutive promotions reaching Division 2 status by the 2010/11 season. On top of this, in 2010 the Men’s team also won the National Shield and in 2011 became runner up in the Patrons Cup. The very smooth transition during post BBL era must be credited to Sara Robinson who served the Club as a Director and Head of Community Programme between 2007-2010.

The Harefield Academy

In 2010 the Club has made strategic decision to move all operations to The Harefield Academy.

London United established a unique partnership with The Harefield Academy which allows young people to combine everyday training with playing on the highest possible level with full time education. Within 3 years we have expanded from 7 full time students to around 50 in Sixth Form where students can benefit from array of BTEC and A-LEVEL courses. At that time the Club was joined by Emma Chambers who became General Manager and Director.

Thanks to the expansion to the lower school we can boast U12, U14, U16 and U18 teams all based on The Harefield Academy students competing in National League competition.

BBL, here we come again

In summer 2013, London United has established another strategic partnership with Buckinghamshire New University to deliver several undergraduate sports courses .That of course manifested itself in large influx of slightly older players and prompted London United in conjunction with Surrey Sports Park to purchase the Surrey Heat franchise participating in the BBL. The new team was renamed Surrey United and participated in BBL for two very challenging seasons. By the long shot the youngest team in the league, they suffered a couple crushing defeats at the beginning of the season but arrival of more experienced foreigners such as Ceslovas Cucinskas, Isaiah Tate, Brandon McGill and Nick Freer allowed the outfit to be far more competitive in the second part of the season. Despite very credible individual performances of Kucinskas who was the second best rebounder in the league {12,6 rgp} and Tate as fifth top scorer [21,2 ppg] Surrey United finished second from the bottom with 4-29 record.

The next season brought improvements in the depth of the team from very beginning of the season allowing the avoidance of heavy deficits which had marked the start of the previous campaign. Despite this, Surrey United finished the last in the table with a 5-31 record. Yet again, the season will be remembered for individual performances contributed by Kramer Knutson who led all rebounders with 12 rpg and Anthony Downing who was fifth scorer in the league with 17.6ppg rather than dominant team performances. It is worth mentioning that Elvisi Dusha at the age of 19 became the youngest captain in BBL history.

The partnership with Surrey Sports Park was ceased at the end of the second season. On the very far more positive note London United participated in the International Students Basketball League in the 2013/14 qualifying to the top 8 tournament in Kazan, Russia where they finished in a very credible 5th position with the only loss of the tournament to the eventual winners Moscow State Academy of Physical Education.

Future Stars

There is no other event which clearer demonstrate our dedication to international competition on the highest level for young basketball players than Future Stars (http://www.futurestars.uk.com).

Future Stars is the product of London United which was established in 2007 as unique event which combines an International junior tournament, International coaching clinic and large scale community event. Our international tournaments have boasted national teams from Spain, Italy, France, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Czech Republic and Poland. Stars such as Jan Vesely, Tomas Satoransky, Dario Saric and Alex Abrines have all graced the floor. The coaching clinic has been delivered by internationally renowned names like Sergio Scariolo, Neven Spahija, Pepu Hernandes, Aito Garcia, Marcin Gortat and Alexandar Trifunovic.

The young players from London United have proven themselves on an elite stage against top international competition finishing second in 2012 and third in 2013.

U16 EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS

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Competitions
U12 Eastern Conference, U16 Western Conference, U18 Western Conference
Seasons
2016, 2017