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Preston’s College were crowned the inaugural ABL champions after defeating Hackney Community College 84-63 in the title showdown at the Leicester Sports Community (LCS) Arena, on Wednesday.
Moses Byekwaso top scored with 17 points to earn the MVP award as six Preston’s players finished in double figures including Junior Oscar, who went 7-of-8 from the field in his 15-point haul.
The teams traded runs in the early stages of the final, before Melkisedek Moreaux began to assert himself into the game. A three from Ahmed Al-Shamri was a rare positive for Hackney as Preston’s went on an 18-4 run across quarters to open up a 25-11 advantage early in the second.
Preston’s then began to heat up from 3-point range with Byekwaso connecting from downtown followed by two more from Ebhinze Udoh as the lead ballooned to 22 points before the half.
Moreaux was closing on a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds at half-time, but took a hard fall just before the interval and subsequently sat the entire third period.
Hackney came out firing at the start of the third as they stepped up their defensive intensity, forcing turnovers in the midst of an 11-2 run. They reduced their deficit to as little as nine points, but Preston’s produced a strong finish to the third to take a 59-45 lead into the final quarter.
And, Preston’s made sure there was no let up in the fourth as they continued to be rewarded by attacking the basket at will. The number 1 seeds from the North closed out the win in style with Byekwaso throwing one down on the break in the middle of an 11-0 run late on.
Preston’s Head Coach Malcolm Leak commented post-game: “It feels good [to be champions]- we worked hard for it all year.
“Hackney are a very good team and we needed to be well prepared.
“We made a lot of unforced turnovers and they came out in the third with a little energy, but we knew they would have a run.
“We just had to settle in and play our game, and that’s what we did.”
Bryan Luna top scored for Hackney with 13 points as their unbeaten season in the ABL was ended at the final hurdle.
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