U14 PLAYOFFS PREVIEW

The under 14 CBL Playoffs move into the Final Four this weekend as the top teams in the division take a step closer to the division crown.  With action taking place at JFS on Sunday, we take a quick look at the match ups:

(1) Gintaras vs (5) Right Development Foundation

Time: 12pm – Date: Sunday, 21st May, 2017 – Venue: JFS

Gintaras look to continue their perfect season against the ‘surprise’ team of the season, Right Development Foundation. Gintaras brought an unblemished 10-0 regular season record into the post-season and then clinically disposed of the Harrow Blackhawks in the first round (48-11).

Led by league MVP candidate and division leading scorer Alonas Peciulis (14.8ppg), Gintaras are a team on a mission.  Peciulis has been the torch bearer in the U14 division this season, scoring at an unrivalled pace, with no signs of slowing down.  The long-limbed guard can slash and finish going right or left, loves to get out in transition and can also hit from the outside – making him hard to guard at this level.  Tadas Girnius (10.4ppg) is the second punch of the potent Gintaras attack, and perhaps the player who puts them over the top.  Girnius works extremely hard on both ends of the floor and plays to win.  While much of the attention this season may have been poured over the more obvious talents of Peciulis, for the more informed eye, it may well be Girnius who holds the key to to Gintaras’ ultimate success as he is the engine that gets them going.

Despite the form book leaning heavily over in Gintaras favour, this game is far from a formality and largely because of the RDF interior resistance delivered in the form of 6’7 Ore Oluro who has been a revelation for Head Coach Lamar Roberts this season.  Though still very raw and obviously new to the game, the rising big man has already displayed excellent timing around the basket on the defensive end, leading the league in blocked shots and growing in confidence with every game. The RDF upset of the higher ranked Tower Hamlets Ravens in the first round was due to Oluro outplaying Tower Hamlets standout big man Andre Parker. Parker is a 6’5 force in the league, without doubt, averaging 10.4ppg in the division and 13.5ppg in the U16 division – but Oluro out rebounded him and made his usual path to the basket, all but inaccessible in a magnificent RDF win.

CBL INSIDER: Gintaras are the strong favourites to win this game, but Oluro is just a complete wild card at this point, in as much as you don’t know what will happen if he turns up ready to play.  You can’t teach height and Oluro has it in abundance at 6’7 with a 6’10 wingspan.  He is surprisingly agile at his age and height and could cause problems for Gintaras around the basket.  That being said, expect Peciulis to take it all up a level as he’s looked like a big-time player all year and has his eyes firmly set on the championship.

(2) Wandsworth Wolves vs (3) K&C Knights

Time: 12pm – Date: Sunday, 21st May, 2017 – Venue: JFS

Wandsworth Wolves have talent with Fozey Abdalla (9.2ppg) Carl Tibigar (7.6ppg) and James Llamado (5ppg) and narrowly missed out on the regular season best record, finishing in second place at 9-1.  With all the fanfare around Gintaras, the Wolves have quietly gone under the radar, sharpening their teeth in preparation for the post-season.  They dropped off the Barnet East Giants in the first round, 31-17, and look primed and ready for their semi-final match up against the Knights.

The K&C Knights finished just behind the Wolves in the regular season, with a 8-2 record but if you watch them play – you can’t help but feel this team has the tools to go all the way.  They have multiple weapons and the deepest team in the league. Adam Beau-Ayed (6.9ppg), Jon Gjorllaku (6.6ppg) and Alberto Chiapparoli (4.6ppg) lead a balanced, well coached attack, which has shown glimpses of being outstanding, at times this season.  K&C beat a quality London Pulse team, 30-22, in the first round and looked good doing it. The Knights are legitimate contenders for the crown and will be ready for the Wolves attack.

CBL INSIDER: The matchup everyone wanted to see!  These two teams are so evenly matched, this is going to be a great one. Wandsworth come in as the form team, but only slightly.  Coach Josh Cole, for the Knights, seems to have a number of options on his team and often runs 9 or 10 deep and everyone seems to contribute.  That being said, Adam Beau-Ayed and Jon Gjorllaku can turn a game, so if they come ready to play it could be the Knights day.

*Stay tuned to the CBL Facebook Page for live updates from the U14 Playoffs this Sunday, 21st May: https://www.facebook.com/TheCBLUK/ *

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