The CBL Playoff Finals promised ‘a glimpse of the stars of tomorrow…today’ – and the spectacular end to another great season for Britain’s biggest grassroots basketball league delivered exactly that.
Hosted on the Olympic Park at the Copper Box Arena, the setting was fitting as the best teams from all age groups from the LSB’s CBL had earned their way onto the big stage after battling their way through the regular season and then the ‘knockout’ rounds of the playoffs until just 2 teams from each division remained.
U14 Boys Championship: Islington Panthers 43 – Gintaras 31
The first game of the day saw a clash of two unbeaten teams in the U14 division go head to head for the CBL crown. The undeniable talent and future promise of the Islington Panthers matched up against the well-drilled team attack from Gintaras. Though the game was close through to the closing minutes of the game, ultimately the Panthers clawed their way to victory behind the dazzling point guard skills of Jamie Mulholland and the inside dominance of Asare. A well deserved win for the Panthers and their excellent coach Will Akuffo, who takes his first CBL Championship back to North London.
U16 Boys Championship: Kensington & Chelsea Knights 31 – Hackney Kings 31
In the U16 final the athletic Hackney Kings took on the flamboyant K&C Knights, coached by West London legend, Josh Cole. The game looked to be in the bag for the Knights who had the Kings on their back heels with their slick passing, cutting and shooting from all angles. However, someone must have told the Kings that their head coach would be coming into the Copper Box with the Queen’s Baton right after the game, because they turned it all around in the 4th quarter behind the irrepressible force that is Josh Apple. Apple drove, dunked and generally bullied his way to basket after basket – to which the Knights ultimately had no answer. In the end the Kings edged home 5 point winners, but the Knights go home to Kensington & Chelsea with their heads held high after a great season.
U16 Girls Championship: City Of London Academy (COLA) 28 – Barnet Bulldogs 21
The girls finals brought together, without doubt, the 2 top teams in the girls CBL this season. Both teams well coached and well supported, this was a game many were looking forward too – and with good reason. Though Barnet showed signs of grabbing control of the game, it was the excellent play of COLA point guard Jones-Aryeh who kept them at bay, play after play. When she wasn’t driving through the lane and finishing lay ups herself, she was on hand to assist her teammates for easy scores. While there was a lot to be positive about in terms of future stars on both teams, there was little doubt Jones-Aryeh was the brightest of them all – for which she was duly rewarded as the game MVP.
U18 Boys Championship: Peckham Pride 35 Vs Kennington Generals 26
The U18 boys final raised the intensity several notches in the matchup many came to see. A battle between 2 of the leading and longest-standing LSB clubs in South London, both led by nationally recognised coaches in Jay Williams (Kennington) and Sterling Muschett (Peckham). Both teams featured a dizzying array of talent who are undoubtedly in the fast lane towards national and international recognition. However it was the depth and composure of the Pride of Peckham who ultimately won out on this day – behind the laser-sharp shooting of ‘Geddi’ Jouzipiatis who proved to be the best 3 point shooter on display, walking away with game MVP.
U25 Womens Championship: Hackney Queens 21 Vs K&C Knights 14
In a testament to the strength of their respective clubs, Hackney played against K&C again in a CBL final, but this time in the U25 womens division. The game looked to be evenly matched until Bianca Osas-Maxwell checked into the game for the Queens. Dominant on the glass, in transition and on the defensive end, there wasn’t much ‘Steady B’ didn’t do on the day. Despite another valiant effort from the Knights, the second trophy of the day made it’s way back to Hackney, with Osas-Maxwell being named the consensus MVP. Players from this game got another treat as the professional players from the London Lions were on hand to hand out the trophy and medals.
U25 Mens Championship: Westminster Warriors 41 Vs Kennington Generals 30
In the clubs second final of the day, the U25 men’s team from the Kennington Generals tried to do their younger club members one better as they squared off against the always impressive Westminster Warriors. Though the Generals looked to have the stronger more athletic team behind 6’6″ 18 year old sensation Joel Ufele, it was the Warriors who appeared more at ease on the big stage. In particular John Okafor on the glass and Denzel Ubiaro just about everywhere else, kept the Warriors in control in this one. The Generals made a late surge in the 4th quarter to cut the Warriors lead to 5 points, but Ubiaro hit another 3 and sliced inside for a strong finish at the basket to ease the Warriors into their final 11 point margin of victory. At just 17 years of age, Ubiaro is certainly a name you’ll be hearing a lot more of at the international level in years to come as he walked away with game MVP honours.
The CBL Finals were also honoured to have the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton visit the arena – carried by LSB’s Hackney Kings head coach Ashley Fagan-Cooper. The Baton inspired the players while also giving the large entourage a glimpse at potential future GB and England stars who may well compete in the games some day in the future.
By the end of an action packed day of basketball competitions, music, dance and an extra special visit from the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton, it was clear that grassroots basketball is alive and well all across London! Roll on next season…[divider]
If you’re interested in playing in the CBL next season, we urge you to register your team as quickly as possible while spaces are still available. Click here to register.