Baltic Stars U11: 47
Westside matching up against Baltic Stars has become an annual event when it comes to the CBL U12 Premier Finals. Both programs represent the highest standards of consistency, organisation and impressive fundamentals found anywhere across the Under 12s division and always deliver a well-coached, well played final round as they compete for the CBL crown.
This season, to the surprise of some, it was the Baltic Stars U11 team who made it through to the finals, despite ‘playing up’ the future stars outlasted their older teammates on the Baltic Stars U12 squad who were beaten in the semi-finals by Westside. Though the younger group going further than their elders will give the U11’s plenty of ammunition for fun-filled ‘banter’ over the summer, more importantly, it should give everyone across the city an indication of what lays ahead for this talented young group.
In the game itself, the U11’s played with purpose, poise and execution beyond their years and have balanced abilities throughout the whole team. Zibuda is clearly one of the most advanced players in the division and showed it in the finals. His ability to take his man off the dribble, going both right and left, while also consistently making his outside shots was a combination that couldn’t be contained by Westside. However, Baltic are far from a ‘one man’ team. Oyrinde is a quick-footed disruptive defensive menace who pressured his assignment every single second of the game, which often caused turnovers or rushed shots from Westside as they struggled to find their normal rhythm. Tylinga is another player on the rise who is confident with the ball in his hands and showed he can finish at the basket and did so repeatedly in the final. Matulevickuis has already established himself as a known shooter from beyond the land of plenty and continued his 3-point shooting exploits in the final, knocking down several long jumpers and a 3 ball just when Westside went on a run. With credit to Baltic’s coach Jordanas Mejeras, the East Londoner’s had no weak links and were a great credit to their coach and program in putting on a convincing display of good team basketball, highlighted by some obvious talent from a group clearly destined for big things.
Westside were led by Kulac Sinan who has been outstanding for the West Londoners all season with a 15 point personal haul – but it wasn’t enough to overcome the outstanding play on this day, from the Baltic Stars and the game MVP Emilis Zibuda who led all scorers with 19 points to keep the CBL title in East London for one more season.
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