Barking Abbey Take the Title – EABL Final Fours 2014 Recap

Barking Abbey were crowned the 2014 EABL National Champions, beating SGS College 76-74 in the final in front of 500 people at UEL Sports Dock on Saturday evening.

It was a fitting end to the season as the two best teams in the league battled down to the wire, with Barking Abbey going on a furious come from behind rally over the final minutes of the game to take their inaugural under-19 championship.

SGS College had three attempts to win or send it to overtime on their last possession after successive offensive rebounds, but were unable to convert, as the Barking Abbey bench stormed the court in celebration on the final horn before soaking their coaching staff with water.

It was two Daniel Ogunseye free throws with less than 30 seconds remaining that ended up being the game winners, but the talking point was MVP Josh Steel’s back to back three pointers with just over three minutes left that gave BA a two point lead , after trailing by as many as seven in the final period.

“He hit some clutch shots,” said BA Head Coach Frank Holloway. “Those two threes he nailed, they were huge, it was intense. I’m glad he made them, he’s a hell of a player and he deserves to be the MVP.”

“It’s taken us three years since I’ve been playing in this league, and I’m just so happy to finally win it,” said Steel, who finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. “…We’ve never won this league before so for us to win it as this group feels so special.

“SGS were very worthy opponents. I didn’t expect for them to be as tough as they were, they kept coming back and just wouldn’t go away.”

SGS were the only undefeated team in the EABL heading into the final and refused to go down without a fight, appearing to be in control for large parts of the game, which featured no less than 15 lead changes and 11 ties.

“We got a good look, to be honest,” said SGS Head Coach Andreas Kapoulas, referring to their last possession.

“At the end of the day, it was a great day of basketball, Barking played really well, I think both of us played really well and I think it was an exciting game, but in every game there was a loser and a winner and this time around it was Barking’s time.”

“The guys deserve it,” said BA Head Coach Frank Holloway. “They played their best game, they played their hardest, they didn’t give up. I couldn’t be happier with them right now. It’s just a testament to what we do at Barking, being the GB Institute, the amount of hours the guys put in, the individuals, the playing schedules, playing in the UK & the US, they’ve showed they’re champions and today they proved it.”

Dwayne Orija added 13 points and 7 rebounds for BA, Daniel Ogunseye had 12 points and 11 rebounds while coming up huge down the stretch and Joe Lockwood added 10.

It was SGS College’s dynamic duo of Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye and Tamas Okros who led from the front, with Lautier-Ogunleye finishing a rebound short of a triple double with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists, whilst Okros had 21.

SGS College vs Milton Keynes College

Semi-Final 1
SGS-College-EABL-Final-Fours
SGS College became the first team to book their place in the 2014 EABL Championship Final after defeating Milton Keynes College 82-56 at UEL Sports Dock on Friday evening.

Undefeated SGS struggled to create separation early, but a dominant third period where they held Milton Keynes to just six points in the quarter, created a comfortable cushion from which they would cruise the rest of the way.

“It was a little tough at the start as we couldn’t quite get into the game, turning the ball over too much,” said SGS forward Tamas Okros, who led all scorers with 22 points and 10 rebounds. “We had a talk with the coach and he told us what we needed to do and we came through in the end.”

SGS went deep into their bench and finished with a balanced attack, seeing five players reach double figures, whilst holding EABL leading scorer Michael New to just 16 points, more than 10 below his average.

“Our transition defense was not very good in the first half,” said SGS Head Coach Andreas Kapoulas. “As the game went on I think we wore them down, did a much better job on our transition defence and our rebounding was a lot better.

“Overall, I’m pleased but it’s only the first part, tomorrow we’ve got to be ready for the final.”

Charnwood College vs Barking Abbey

Semi-Final 2
Barking-Abbey-EABL-Final-Fours
Barking Abbey will meet SGS College in the 2014 EABL Championship Final after defeating Charnwood College 70-60 on Friday evening at UEL Sports Dock.

Underdogs Charnwood College put up a strong fight, stretching their lead to as many as 13 points in the second period behind 15 first half points from Josh McSwiggan, but BA held him to just four points the rest of the way and dominated the third quarter behind the play of big man Karolis Kundrotas.

“We came out a little stunned, we were slow, not fast breaking enough, but in the second half we picked it up and played Barking Abbey basketball,” said Kundrotas, who finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds, 8 of which game on the offensive end.

“I think maybe we were a little nervous about being here; for some of our guys it’s their first time,” said BA Head Coach Frank Holloway, referring to Abbey’s slow start. “We got it together in the end and really took control in the second half and got back to how we were supposed to play and came out with a good victory.”

Kundrotas was joined in double figures by Josh Steel, who added 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, and Joe Junior Mvuezolo with 11.

McSwiggan had 19 for Charnwood, the only player in double figures, whilst Billy Fox grabbed 10 rebounds along with his 8 points.

Image Credits: Abdul Kassim Photography

Notes

  • The final was the best game I’ve seen all season, and one of the best/most enjoyable games I’ve been witness to in England. Of course, I’m bias, but for me it lived up to the hype.
  • The BA comeback (the two Josh Steel threes were awesome), and all of the plays down the stretch from both teams, had the entire crowd on edge and created an awesome atmosphere from the 400 to 500 people in attendance.
  • Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye & Tamas Okros were impressive for SGS, keeping them in the game and coming up with a hoop whenever they needed down the stretch, the last possession for SGS had plenty of looks but none would drop.
  • Joe Junior Mvuezolo & Daniel Ogunseye both had big dunks for BA.
  • The EABL has been a fascinating case study this year – a project Hoopsfix took on in a consultancy role at the beginning of the season. Though the season had its ups and downs, I feel, in particular the Final Fours was a huge success. We are hoping to publish a full case study in the coming weeks, but would love to see it replicated across other leagues.
  • Highlights and the full game will be uploaded to the EABL YouTube channel as soon as possible  – major technical issues with my laptop (it died on Friday morning) meant the games couldn’t be streamed and highlights have been later than we would have liked.
  • GB’s Dan Clark was in attendance to present the trophies, along with two members of the EB Board; Independent Chair Jan Hagen and Rick Boomgaardt.
  • SGS College had just too much talent for Milton Keynes College in the semi-final, and did a good job of shutting down EABL leading scorer Michael New Junior.
  • Josh McSwiggan dominated the first half against BA in the semi, with 15 points, but they took him out of the game in the second.
  • Barking Abbey’s Karolis Kundrotas led from the front, using his impressive jump hook to finish with ease around the basket vs Charnwood
  • A couple of big missed dunks on the Friday; Deane Williams had one catapult back to half court, while Joe Junior Mvuezolo had a nasty one on the break back rim. Both redeemed themselves with nice finishes later, though.
  • Awesome sized crowd in the semi-finals, especially for the second game, which was great to see.
  • Photos from the semi-finals have been uploaded on the EABL’s Facebook here, while photos from the Final are here, and there will also be stuff going on the EABL Instagram @OfficialEABL.
  • Follow @OfficialEABL on Twitter for regular updates from the league heading into next season, and check out the official EABL website.
  • Ken

    Wow, reaction seems pretty good from the eabl final fours. Suppose it shows that England Basketball can actually do something right. If the National leagues cannot follow this, at least we know where the problem lies!

  • Steve

    This competition worked because the guy running it actually got people involved who know their stuff. Congrats to Charlie Ford, for getting Hoopsfix & the coaches involved. Hoopsfix will take much of the credit and rightly so but without Charlie pulling the strings to make that happen, it wouldn’t have been so good.

    Let’s hope EB see this and now involve Sam and perhaps some of the more ambitious coaches at EBL level to follow suit.

    Great job to all!!

  • Rate

    This was a great success, the whole season in fact. It has given such new life to Junior basketball in the UK, many people previously complain of lack of coverage for young talent but I feel the EABL has really given that chance for many players, note Michael New, Tyler Russel, Benjamin Nkossi, Andre gayle, who would go under the radar some what. Been a great success and will only get better in my opinion.

  • Jessie

    When is the final game going to be uploaded to YouTube.m? It’s been like two weeks now, I really want to see as I missed my boyfriend playing

  • Pingback: EABL Final Fours 2014 – Barking Abbey Take the Title! — Hoopsfix.com()

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