The under 18 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) Brent Ballers vs (4) Access 2 Sports
Time: 4pm – Date: Sunday, 21st May, 2017 – Venue: JFS
Brent Ballers have been the most consistent team in the U18 division this season, with former GB International Julius Joseph taking over the reigns in steering his club to success at 7-1. The Ballers play hard on both ends of the floor and have overwhelmed teams this season with hustle and teamwork, best characterised by the play of Kunal Magar who has had an outstanding season. At 4.9ppg (7ppg true average), Magar’s numbers don’t jump off the scoresheet, however his overall impact on Brent’s success cannot be measured by stats alone. When he does score, he scores at the right, and often critical moments – but above that, he is constantly on the go, spinning, running, assisting and rebounding his way to key play after key play. He’s consistently been the engine on which the West Londoner’s have relied, and he never fails to get it going.
Brent always do a solid job on the glass, led by Sheyi Agbaye, and Brandon Ngwese, but their gang-rebound approach is what has led them to success on the boards this season with multiple players stepping up all year long. If Max Woods is available to play, he can be a game-changer, with his 12ppg (17.2ppg true average) scoring, ball handling and overall game control.
Access 2 Sports are deep, talented, athletic and better than their 4th place finish in the league may suggest. The North London outfit are led by Jordi Kemelo (11.6ppg, 16.5ppg true game average) and Sammie Said (8.4ppg, 12ppg true game average), but are loaded with a full squad of players who all have the ability to have major impact in a game. Head Coach Justin Hitchman runs a tight ship and has done an outstanding job in putting A2S in position to win.
A2S are at their best when they get out in transition and have the ability to put points on the board in a hurry. At times they look like the most athletic team in the division and can overwhelm teams when firing on on all cylinders.
CBL INSIDER: “Tear up the regular season records and forget what’s happened up to this point – because this is a far more even match up than a 1v4 seed would suggest. A2S beat a quality team in COHNEL Warriors, and did so convincingly so are coming into the game ready to roll. That being said, Brent Ballers have a lot of fight in them this season and have been playing with a ‘refuse to lose’ attitude all year long. On length, pure talent and athleticism, the advantage goes to A2S but attitude, will and fight favour Brent. This has all the makings of a game that’s going the distance and it’s too close to call!“
(2) Wandsworth Wolves vs (3) Haringey Sixers
Time: 5pm – Date: Sunday, 21st May, 2017 – Venue: JFS
Wandsworth Wolves have arguably the best guard in the league this season in league MVP candidate John Lainez (14.6ppg, 20.8ppg true game average), joined by intriguing big man Raydel Lussaney (9.1ppg, 13ppg TGA), Jermaine Thompson and Cameron Miller (both 6ppg/8.5ppg TGA) and athletic guard Morgan Sullivan (4.5ppg/6.4ppg TGA). These boys can play – and there’s a reason they finished with the second best record of the regular season. In Lainez, the Wolves have a mercurial ball handler who consistently finds spots in the defense to exploit with spinning drives into the lane, often finished with hard-to-guard lay ups, of hand offs for team mates. He’s scored at will this season and will take some slowing down in the post-season. A big part of what makes Lainez hard to stop is the strength of the rest of his team. Wandsworth can literally beat teams with any one of their starting 5 being the ‘go go guy’ on any given day.
Lussaney is long-limbed and athletic and has barely scratched the surface of how good he could be. Physically gifted, he rebounds well in traffic, finishes strong in transition and has even shown flashes of a developing outside shot this season. When he is rolling, Wandsworth are hard to stop. Thompson, Miller and Sullivan are all also capable of big scoring games in their own right and will be overlooked at someone’s peril. Wandsworth have the talent to go all the way – if they come to play.
Haringey Sixers finished 3rd in the regular season, but that was down to availability of players rather than reflection of talent. When fully-loaded, the Sixers present formidable opposition for any team in the league talent in both back court and front court. Ayo Awojobi (13.5ppg/19.2ppg TGA) Daniel Kurczewski (13.6ppg/19.4ppg TGA) and Marcel Kofi (9ppg/12.8ppg TGA) control the backcourt while Lamine Nadine (3.2ppg/4.5ppg TGA) and Jerome Blake (8.2ppg/11.7ppg TGA) take care of business in the front court. Tyrell Robinson (10.5ppg/15ppg TGA) is a smooth do-it-all combo guard who could possibly the most talented player in the division with the ability to put the Sixers over the edge if pushed to play.
CBL INSIDER: “Two talented teams who are both legitimately capable of winning it all. Lainez has been the most consistent scorer in the league this year, but may not have faced a defensive trio of the quality of Awojobi, Kofi and Robinson before. Lamine Nadine has made big strides this season and how he matches up with Lusanney could well determine the outcome of this game. Wandsworth have the tools to win, but Haringey may just take this one.”
*Stay tuned to the CBL Facebook Page for live updates from the U18 Playoffs this Sunday, 21st May: https://www.facebook.com/TheCBLUK/ *