EABL Preview – Final Fours

After months of competition between some of the top programmes in the country, we are down to just four sides in the race for EABL glory. We take a look at both the Final Four games scheduled for this week, and who might book their place in the EABL final later this month.

#1 Barking Abbey v #3 Copleston High School

An all Southern affair guarantees the Southern Conference will have at least one finalist in the EABL showcase this year, with both Barking and Copleston going all out on Wednesday to make sure they’re the ones lining up at Essex University on 18 March.

If Copleston are going to book their place, they’ll have to do something no other side has managed this season and beat Coach Vear’s side. Last season’s finalists were a perfect 15-0 during the regular season, including a 98-61 win over today’s opponents Copleston back in October and a 79-59 victory in mid-January.

Much will no doubt rest on the shoulders of reigning Conference MVP Ethan Price, who had a colossal 31 points, 25 rebounds and 7 blocks performance in Copleston’s upset win against #2 seeds Charnwood.  BA restricted Price to just 16 points in their last meeting, and the talented forward’s battle with fellow big Theo Hughes will no doubt be one to watch.

Barking’s biggest strength in this one may be their depth, a quality that has been on display throughout the season as a multitude of players have contributed to their success. Thomas Sowoolu top scored in the 89-53 Elite Eight win over Manchester, with Veron Eze and Louis Norton both enjoying solid outings. Norton in particular offers a lot at both ends of the court, with the BA defence allowing just 49.3ppg during the regular season.

It’s hard to bet against unbeaten Barking on their own court, but in Ethan Price Copleston have a talent that can take a game over. After going 2-3 to start the season as Price rehabbed an injury, the Suffolk programme are 11-1 since his return. The only defeat was against Barking in East London though.

#1 Myerscough College v #2 John Madejski Academy

The lone remaining representatives from the Northern Conference are Myerscough and they welcome John Madejski Academy to the North West on Wednesday hoping to continue an unbeaten streak of their own.

14-0 during the regular season, coach Hopkins side were rarely troubled during their schedule. An 83-80 win on the road in Derby was the closest the team came to suffering defeat, but a Sanmi Fajana triple on the buzzer saw ‘Sco home on that occasion. Displaying their might in Europe to seal a historic EYBL title, it has been a season to remember for Myerscough as they go from strength to strength. Amari Williams, Lewis McGlasson, Bradley Kaboza and Franklin Agu have all enjoyed solid campaigns and will no doubt want to cap the season with an EABL title.

So what do JMA have at their disposal to grab an upset on the road? Talented guard David Chive was a force in the regular season regardless of opponent, scoring an EABL 8th best 18.1ppg to go with a 4th best 4.3apg. Ross Stepney paced the Rockets with 22 points in their 78-65 Elite Eight win over James Watt College, plus Asher Ndah has collected EABL Player of the Week honours this season. Add into the mix Latrell Maitland’s energy at both ends of the court (EABL 3rd best 3.4 steals per game, 10.3ppg during the regular season), and the Rockets certainly have the quality on their roster to challenge.

Once again, the advantage rests with a #1 seed at home, but the Rockets could well push Myerscough all the way in this one.

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