- National Teams
Watch the 2024 U18 Men’s National Cup Final between Derby Trailblazers and Islington Panthers, live from 17:30 at the National Basketball Performance centre, Manchester.
Saturday’s action draws to a close with two sides looking to etch their names into U18 Cup history for the first time as Derby Trailblazers go up against Islington Panthers.
Neither side has won this title dating back to the 1940s, adding an extra level of incentive to end day one at the National Basketball Performance Centre.
For Islington, a large portion of their roster is a holdover from the U16 side that won the National Cup at that age group in 2021/22.
Former MVP Tyresse Poku Mensah returns, with the likes of Paul Magno, Luka and Lemar Clarke, Devontae Da Costa, Douglas Owusu and Jaidan Dawes all doing the same in the search of further glory.
Unlike their opponents Islington, who are enjoying a very strong campaign in the Eastern Premier, Derby have struggled for the same levels of success in the Northern Premier.
Losing four of their first five games to start the season left the Trailblazers with work to do, allowing the National Cup to prove a worthwhile distraction across the current campaign.
Part of Derby’s Cup journey involved knocking 2021/22 winners Manchester Magic out in the third round with a narrow 73-70 win, following that up with victories against Trafford, St Helens and Reading on route to the Final.
A number of their roster is also making waves in the EABL this season, with Nick Wild, Rohan Hobday, Jack Lemon, Zac Atkins and Elias Norman all picking up useful minutes at the next level.
Derby Trailblazes captain Elias Norman commented:
“We’ve improved in every game during our Cup run and we’re the most prepared we’ve ever been. I think that the Final will be a very high-intensity game from start to finish, but we will play 100% the whole time.”
Islington head coach William Akuffo added: “I am happy and proud of the team to have made it to the Sure Shot National Cup Final. The team respects each other and the game and have learnt that hard work is rewarded; if you lose, you learn to pick yourself up and try again which will eventually result in success, not only for yourself but the whole team.”