EABL 2016-17 Season Preview

As the EABL prepares to return for its fourth year in existence this week, we preview the teams competing in the league, which has reduced in size from 19 to 15 for the 2016-17 season.

Take a look and find out who the key recruits and returners are for each side, along with a word from Head Coaches.

West Conference

Allerton High Force Academy

Allerton will be looking to build upon their 4-7 season last year, as they are yet to make the post-season since entering the EABL in 2014-15.

Micah Savery-Richards returns to the squad following a summer with the England Under-18s, along with Jaka Pandza, who was amongst the league’s blocked shot leaders last season.

Head Coach Matt Newby considers Christian Alexander, Justin Missick and Jake Aldridge as his key recruits this season, as he looks to play up-tempo, but the ability to hold a strong composed half court system.

“The quality has gone from strength to strength year in year out and there has been strong national recruitment from a number of programs,” Newby said of the coming season.

“The league promises to go up a level again and that’s credit to great coaches providing healthy competitive environments. We need to continue to develop and become increasingly competitive throughout the year and start closing the gap on established programs.”

Bournville College

Bournville turned heads with their performances in their debut season last year, going 9-3 during the regular season before being knocked out in the quarter finals by Itchen.

With the departure of the league’s second leading scorer, Sedale Hanson-Young, Head Coach Nigel Hanson will have an scoring hole to fill, and will look to both returners and new faces to make up the production.

Exciting point guard Keanen Williams returns, along with Kuda Mubaiwa and both players will look to take a leadership role on the squad with a number of new faces, including former England Under-17 Keagan Allen and former Oaklands’ guard/forward George Pool.

Charnwood College

Defending champions Charnwood College will be riding high off their success last season, but have to contend with the loss of their core Senior class, made up of Andre Arissol, Thomas Yome and Tim Fava.

However, returning big men Henri Langton and Romario Spence, along with guard Sesan Russell and forwards Morgan Carter and David Issekya, Head Coach Josh Merrington is hoping they have enough pieces to put together a solid defence of their title.

“I am really excited for the season ahead,” Merrington said.

“We have a good blend of returning players and new additions who will be ready to make an impact. I am also excited to see some of our returners step up and play bigger roles this season. We know we will have a big target on our back as defending EABL Championships so we must be physically and mentally prepared to play our best basketball every time we step on the floor.”

Key recruits include Johde Campbell, who was impressive with Gateway College in the ABL last season, Scotland Under-18 guard Kyle Jiminez, former City of London Academy forward Patrick Lanipekun, NASSA’s Zakeus-Blue Shagouri and Cheshire’s Joe Bielak.

Loreto 6th Form College

Having struggled through a 3-8 season last year, things are looking up for Loreto 6th Form after returning key players along with a strong recruiting class.

Kaiyem Cleary, Maison Brown, Bartosz Blachut and Ashur Ulett-Waul all return for Loreto, whilst talented Italian Michael Anumba, England Under-16 Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo and Josh Pearce are incoming.

“With a host of new recruits we aim to develop our players both technically and tactically to build on progressions from last year and instil good principles on and off the floor,” Head Coach Peter Paraskeva said.

“We will attempt to control the tempo of each game with a tireless work ethic on defence and unselfish, structured offence.”

Myerscough College

2015 Champions and 2016 runners up Myerscough College will be hoping to return to the finals for a third straight year.

2015-16 West Conference Player of the Year Kyle Carey will be hard to replace, but with rising star Zion Tordoff back for another season, along with inside force Ayo Nuwe, and Ed Sirmbardis, Head Coach Neal Hopkins is optimistic:

“We will work as hard as possible to be a contender this year,” he said. “The guys are extremely hungry and ready for what promises to be another great EABL season.”

Hopkins has recruited Leeds’ James Banton, Alex Roberts from Manchester Magic, as well as Scotland’s Konrad Kontorski, and says they look forward to the 2016 final re-match with Charnwood.

“We can’t wait for the Charnwood fixtures we know they will have some good players and as reigning champions the target is on their chest.”

Noel Baker School/Derby College

Noel Baker School/Derby College, who finished 7-4 last season to steal the last playoff spot in the West, return Spanish-British brothers Brian and Adria Amabilino along with versatile forward Callum Singleton.

Notable new recruits include Luke Ptak, Omari Smith and Jrae Lue, as Head Coach Matt Shaw looks to play an up-tempo style at both ends of the floor, playing a brand of basketball that is entertaining to watch.

“We are hoping to improve each week,” Shaw said.

“I’m not sure what the other teams will be like so its hard to make early predictions or targets. But we want to make the post season and put ourselves in the best possible position come play off time.

SGS College

SGS College finished up 6-6 last season and have recruited a number of players for the 2016-17 season that will see them field a relatively young squad.

Lewis Pettitt, Aiden Khan, Callum Haines and Tashon Wallace-Hall are all returning for Coach Andreas Kapoulas, meanwhile, 6’9″ AJ Edu will provide some much-needed front line support in this year’s incoming class, along with Corey Samuels, Jason Witter, Yeshe Choephell and Oliver Carey.

“We are a relatively young team this year and we want to focus on getting better every week,” Kapoulas said.

“Making the playoffs is a target that our group has set however most importantly we want to compete every game and make an impact with our style of play and effort levels.

“All games in the EABL are very competitive and we will be facing some of the best under-19 teams every week. Our conference is very strong featuring both EABL playoff finalists from last season so these are games to definitely look forward to however every game matters and we got to be ready to perform to the best of our ability.”

East Conference

Barking Abbey School

Following defeat to eventual champions Charnwood College in the quarter-finals last year, Barking Abbey will be looking for vengeance and to regain the title they won in 2014.

Returning a number of core players such as RJ Eytle-Rock, Obi Agu, Zephi Sharman, Joe Cummins and Kevin Boatey, while bringing in a strong recruiting class that includes ABL South Conference Player of the Year Dan Akin, Scotland Under-18 Sean Nealon-Lino and the athletic Amin Adamu from City of London Academy.

“Our aim will be to try and win every game and take it one game at a time, I think thats all you can do in the EABL,” said Head Coach James Vear.

“There are a lot of good teams spread across England now and every game is tough

“We want to play an uptempo style trying to get the best possible shot we can each time down the floor. We really want to be a defensive minded team and take pride in that end of the floor for the full 40 minutes.”

BHASVIC

After a tough 1-12 season last year, BHASVIC will be looking to bounce back this season and take advantage of their underdog status.

Returning guards Enoch Quarcoo, Cambridge Kisby and Stan Howard, whilst bringing in athletes Harry Baker and Dan Beard, along with sharpshooter Gen Lindsay.

“We want to continue to develop our players within our system,” said Head Coach Marco Sanchez.

“We believe in skill development being at the core of everything we do. It provides the foundation for players to continue their careers in basketball if that is what they choose. For the league we feel we have underperformed last year and are looking to use our position as underdog to our advantage this season.

Meanwhile, they are excited of the prospect of facing South coast rivals Itchen College.

“We always look forward to our games against Itchen College as we know they are one of the toughest teams in the country. They are also our closest neighbour and last year they completely outplayed us in both games, so we feel it is always a good test to see our progression when we go up against them.”

Canterbury High School

After just missing out on the playoffs last year with a 7-6 record, Canterbury will be aiming to get over the hump this season.

Losing last season’s EABL leading scorer James Lloyd will hurt, but Head Coach Jesse Sazant has recruited talented England Under-16 Mate Okros, along with Tumi Olojede and Tyrese Walters.

Big men Oliver Dykes and Ryan Murunge are both returning, as well as sharpshooter Oliver Waymark and Elliot Bailey.

“I’m really excited about this group,” Sazant said. “The guys come in and compete every day. We are simply going to keep pushing and see how far we can go as a group.

“As always, defence will be key for us. We want to play faster than we normally have, share the ball and shoot a lot of threes.”

City of London Academy

Following an impressive first season in the EABL that saw them advance to the Final Four before losing to eventual champions Charnwood College, City of London Academy have made opponents take notice.

Despite the loss of East Conference Player of the Year Shaquille Walters, dominant big man Sam Japhet-Mathias and explosive guard Amin Adamu, CoLA do bring back a number of their core; testament to the depth they had last season.

Gedi Juozapaitis, Thai Segwai-Lodge, Solomon Iluyomade, Mayowa Mohammed, James Mitchell and Jonathan Komagum are all back, whilst Ade Adeniran, Kayleb Woldeyes, Termon Serrant, Peter Turray and Samuel Keita are the key recruits Head Coach Sterling Muschett is looking forward to putting through their paces.

Muschett lists developing more of a defensive identity, improving efficiency on offence and securing home court advantage for the playoffs amongst the team’s main goals for the season.

“We have a lot of new, young and talented players who will complement the players that we have left from last season,” he said.

“The combination of youth and experience will create an exciting buzz around and within the team.

“Defence, both team and individual, will be our backbone and identity this season. We will not neglect our uptempo offensive style as players love to put on a show but there will be a bigger emphasis on the defensive end.”

Copleston Sixth Form

Copleston are feeling positive about the coming season as they return nearly all of their core group from last year, where they went 8-5 to secure the final playoff spot in the East.

2015-16 East Conference second team duo Caleb Fuller and Josh Apple both return, along with point guard Rory Winter, whilst Head Coach Tom Sadler marks Blake Reid as his key recruit for the coming season.

“We have a great core group of players returning this year that love playing together and competing,” Sadler enthused. “We are hoping to build on what we were able to achieve last year.

“We are an athletic, unselfish team that love playing together and sharing the ball.

“The EABL is a very competitive league and has been for the last three years, every game is going to be a challenge and one that we look forward to.”

Itchen College

A Final Four appearance for Itchen College last year capped an impressive season for the team, as 2016-17 sees them in a transition year after losing their four player core of Theo King, Selby Hind-Wills, Ben Maranan and Dan Hemingway – who were all ranked in the league’s top 10 in efficiency last season.

However, Itchen have one of the strongest recruiting classes in the EABL this season, with the addition of Rael Williams from Harris Academy – one of only 4 players to average over 20.0ppg last season, Hammersmith’s Vaughan Browne – who was top 3 in steals last season, and Sheffield’s Sam Van Oostrum who will be making his EABL debut.

They also return solid contributors such as Adam Riabi and big men Ashley Briggs and Roman Farion.

“We are aiming to put ourselves in a position to be in contention for all silver wear on offer and to provide a platform for our student athletes to develop on and off the floor,” Head Coach Matt Guymon said.

“We have a number of new players and our focus in pre season is to establish our identity as a new group.”

John Madejski Academy

John Madejski Academy finished a game under .500 last year (6-7), missing out on the post-season, but return all of their core with another year of experience under their belt.

Top 10 EABL scorer Ali Sbai leads the group, which includes Fidel Gomez de Enterria Lopez, who was the league’s second best rebounder last season, the athletic Ibu Jassey and lightning quick point guard Ganesh Bikram Rana.

Key recruits include Iñigo Perez, Matt Armstrong, Adrian Nosa, and big man Will Hur, as JMA will hope to make the post-season.

“Our aims for the season are really straight forward; we want to continue to develop our players both on and off the court and be in the next level by reaching the play-offs,” Pedro Garcia Rosado said.

“We need to work really hard to do this and make sure our thinking and approach to practice and games is right so we can try to achieve this.”

Rosado added he wants his squad to play high intensity defence, organised tactically where players can show their skills individually and collectively.

Oaklands College

After going 7-6 last season and just missing out the playoffs, Oaklands College return for 2016-17 with hopes of grasping the spot that alluded them last year.

Having lost one of the league’s best players in Evan Walshe, who begins his college career at Barry University, Oaklands are hoping the returning Dominic Scott-Robinson, Obi Egbunike, Isaia Alexis and Aaron Martin can make up for his absence.

Oaklands have recruited former Copleston Mark James, Jose Morals, Georges Tchuako and Daniel Johnson-Thompson as Head Coach Lee Ryan will be looking to put out a high-energy outfit on the floor.

“We are looking to build on last years improvements and secure the playoff spot that just escaped us last season,” Ryan said.

“The new format will make it all the more challenging but we are looking forward to competitive games every week.

“Last year we went after it in every game and when you look at the extra athletes that are in our gym this year I don’t see it being much different. We are deep in every spot, so having high energy and being relentless in everything we do well is what teams can expect from us, we will be looking to set the tempo in games.”

The 2016-17 EABL season begins on Wednesday October 5, with a seven game slate. Keep up to date with the EABL throughout the season by following on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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