- National Teams
Ahead of EBL National Finals Day tomorrow at UEL Sports Dock, we preview the games and look at the key match-ups.
This game showcases two of the powerhouses of EBL Division 1 against each other after Manchester’s impressive return to the top tier after a two year sabbatical in the lower leagues to rebuild with their youth system.
These two have only faced off once in the league so far this season with the Rockets coming out on top by a twenty point winning margin. Gabriel Diaz-Morera stole the show in that game with an impressive 24 point haul and will be a player that the Magic will have on their radar on defence.
Magic Head Coach Paul Middleton was in positive mood ahead of the game:
“From our point of view, this is the biggest game we have been involved in since I took over our senior team nearly 3 years ago. It is really pleasing for us to make a National Final in our first year back in Division 1.”
“We have had a good week of preparation to be ready for this game, as we know Reading have a very talented, well-coached group that have had a great season so far. We understand that Reading will be clear favourites to lift their second title in just a few weeks but I know that our guys are desperate to prove themselves on the big stage.”
“Even though we have a relatively young team, many of them have played in many national finals during the last couple of years with senior and junior teams here at the club and hopefully this will serve them well as they know what to expect from the day.”
Key matchup – Josh Wilcher vs Franc Garcia Garrido
Players to watch – Gabriel Diaz-Morera & Danny Carter (Reading)
Tom Ward & Ryan Lohfink (Manchester)
Both these teams went undefeated in the pool stages of this competition and both looked early contenders for honours this season following their promotion from Division 3 after stellar campaigns last time out.
The Heat have picked up two wins over their Suffolk opponents so far in the league this season but Heat Head Coach Eduardo Perez was keen to state that the game would be anything but easy saying:
“We’re looking forward to another finals day with great anticipation and we hope we can come back with the right result once more.”
“Ipswich will be a tough opponent, as they’ve already proved twice this season, and we’ll have to be at our best to defeat them.”
Ipswich Head Coach Nick Drane was determined to send out a rallying cry to his troops:
“We have played everyone in Division Two and I think Huddersfield have been the best team we have faced.”
“They are loaded with talent, especially in their starting group but in both games we have played against them we feel that we have masterminded our own downfall, losing in the final minute both times. Our league standing doesn’t do us justice this season, this is a great opportunity for our guys to prove that on Saturday.”
Key matchup – Tom Sadler vs Miguel Molina
Players to watch – Josh Johnson & Luke Mascall-Wright (Ipswich)
Nick Crowder & Nathaniel Akins (Huddersfield)
It’s a real David vs Goliath story in the Shield Final with Division 3 powerhouse Lituanica (15-0 league play) taking on the Division 4 MSW conference leaders Oxford.
The D4 side took down Steven Gayle and the Rossendale Raptors to reach the final and will be hoping that momentum will carry them into a strong performance in the final.
Lituanica have it all to prove this season after coming so close but yet so far in various competitions last season, including a playoff final loss to Plymouth last May.
Key Matchup – Karolis Stepanavicius vs Chris Petzy