The under 12 CBL Playoffs got underway with each of the higher placed seeds in both the East and West conference winning through their first-round matchups to set up a series of exciting matchups in the conference semi-finals.  With the semi-finals fast approaching this weekend, we take a look at each of the key match ups and focus in on what to expect in each game.

Western Conference: (1) Westside vs (4) K&C Knights

Time: 11am – Date: Sunday, 21st May, 2017 – Venue: JFS

In the West, number 1 seed Westside match up against a young, but skilled Baltic Stars U11 squad.  Westside won the whole division last season and are edging closer to an illusive repeat behind the talented trio of J Puerta (9.3ppg) Louis Savastano (8ppg) and the always influential Robbie Black (7.2ppg).  K&C Knights are led by one of the most respected development coaches in London, Josh Cole, so it comes as no surprise to see them consistently get better as the season has progressed, culminating in an outstanding performance in the first round of the playoffs, where they knocked out London Pulse by a score of 33-17.

CBL INSIDER: Westside are the reigning league champions and remain firm favourites in this one.  In Robbie Black, they have a gutsy point guard who gets his teammates involved but is also capable of making plays when they count.  They’ll need to be on their ‘A’ game to beat a rejuvenated K&C Knights team.  Coach Josh Cole has done an outstanding job this season with all of his teams and he will have the Knights ready to play.”

Western Conference: (2) Access 2 Sports vs (3) Baltic Stars U11

Time: 11am – Date: Sunday, 21st May, 2017 – Venue: JFS

Access 2 Sport feature one of the best young players in the division in Manie Joses, who leads all U12’s in scoring at 14.4ppg and has been a dominant player all season long.  Head Coach Justin Hitchman missed out on the opportunity to win it all last season, due to scheduling conflicts that prevented A2S from fulfilling their playoff fixtures, and felt his team had a good chance at winning it all if they had only gotten to play.  This season, they are available and are look ready to make a strong run at the title.  Baltic Stars U11’s have been well organised, well coached and turning heads throughout the league all season, holding their own against older teams all season.  Every single one of the Stars U11’s have 2 more years of eligibility left in the division, which should send shockwaves throughout the CBL U12 division.

CBL INSIDER: Baltic Stars have taken the league by storm this season and are well-coached, well-supported and are peppered with talent, but if Joses gets going, he’ll be hard to stop and could lead A2S though to the conference finals.

Eastern Conference: (1) Baltic Stars U12 vs (4) Gintaras

Time: 11am – Date: Sunday, 21st May, 2017 – Venue: JFS

 Baltic Stars U12’s have looked good enough to compete in (and possibly win) the U14 division this season and have an outstanding coach with international pedigree in Andrius Mažutis.  Klaudijus Paralnis (7.6ppg), Nedas Oholevinskas (7ppg) and Klauduas Gaidziuas (6.8ppg) lead a balanced and often, devastating Baltic Stars attack that scores in multiple ways, contributing to the highest scoring offense in the U12 division this season (42ppg) that will take a special effort from any opposing team to beat. If any team in the league is capable of such and effort, it may well be Gintaras. Gintaras’ strength is in numbers as they have a balanced attack and are always well supported every time they play.  As with all Gintaras teams, expect the young Lithuanians to play hard, play with passion and undoubtedly play to win.

CBL INSIDER: This game is going to be highly charged and exciting as both teams have Lithuanian roots and are very well supported. Baltic Stars have the slight advantage in terms of the level of development their team is at, but Gintaras never surrender and always play hard in every game.  With strong support always in attendance for both teams all season long, we expect it to be intense. The game will come down to which team is able to keep their composure and concentration to be able to perform on the day and use the support positively to get the most from their respective teams.

Eastern Conference: (2) Hackney Jedis vs (3) London United 

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

The other Eastern Conference semi-final brings together the Hackney Jedis Vs London United in a ‘win-to-stay-in’ clash for a place in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Hackney are led by one of the brightest prospects in the league, Dean DeFreitas-Smith (11.5ppg) who can shoot, handle the ball, pass and most impressively, has a basketball IQ beyond his years.  The second leading scorer in the whole division, despite having another year of eligibility to play U12 basketball, DeFreitas-Smith will be a name we hear about in years to come.

London United United are an absolute force to be reckoned with and have played some of the best basketball seen in the division this season.  The United attack is led by one of the top 3 scorers in the entire league, in Zargar Adar (11.3ppg), who is ably assisted by Aaquib Khan (8.2ppg) and Joel Dumitru (7.6ppg).  Highly skilled and entertaining to watch, the West Londoner’s are unquestionably one of the hot favourites to win the division, which makes this match up an absolute ‘must-see’ clash between East and West London.

CBL INSIDER: If DeFreitas-Smith is hitting his outside shot, the game may swing over to Hackney’s favour, but he’ll need help from his teammates to get the Jedi’s over the line in this one.  London United are seriously good and although they come into the game as the lower seed, based on how they’ve played this season, the slight edge favours United in this one.  Will be a great game regardless and perhaps DeFreitas-Smith puts on a show to cause the upset.”

*Stay tuned to the CBL Facebook Page for live updates from the U12 Playoffs this Sunday, 21st May: *