PRESTON, Lancs. -- Two No. 1 seeds will clash at Leicester Arena on Thursday when Myerscough plays Barking Abbey for the EABL Championship. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. with a live stream available through the UNILAD Facebook and updates via Twitter at @My_bball.
Myerscough (13-1) is 1-1 in EABL Championship games with its lone title coming against Charnwood in 2015 and is looking to prevent Barking Abbey (15-1) from winning back-t0-back titles. The two storied programmes have accounted for a spot in the final in each of the last four years, with the winner of the matchup going on to claim the championship -- a trend that will hold form on Thursday.
“It’s a huge reward for us to be in another final,” said 2018 EABL West Conference Coach of the Year and Myerscough head coach Neal Hopkins. “It’s the youngest team we’ve had over the last four or five years so it’s nice to reach this stage with an honest group that has been consistent throughout the season.”
Thursday marks the third-ever meeting between Myerscough and Barking Abbey and features five All-EABL Team selections. Barking won the most recent matchup -- a 73-61 decision -- in last season’s Final Four en route to an undefeated record and second overall title.
A 75-64 win, however, has vaulted Myerscough back into the finals for third time in programme history where it gets a chance at redemption. Edoardo Del Cadia proved too much for Canterbury to handle in the semifinal as he scored 29 points, hit six 3-pointers and grabbed 12 rebounds.
“I'm just trying to play like I know I can,” said Del Cadia. “My teammates have confidence in me and they are always trying to put me in rhythm because they know what is my potential.”
Myerscough, which is currently shooting 39 percent (53-of-136) from the field and 29.2 percent (19-of-65) from 3-point range, boasts the number-one ranked offensive rating in the league and is fourth defensively.
Del Cadia leads four in double-figures scoring in the playoffs with 23.5 points per game on 16-of-32 (50 percent) shooting. The forward -- one of three All-EABL First Teamers in the game -- is hitting 44.4 percent of his shots from deep and is grabbing 13 rebounds per contest after averaging a double-double during the regular season.
Callan Low ranks second on the team with 15.5 points in two games on 52.2 percent shooting (12-of-23). Mate Okros is coming off just five points against Canterbury, but scored a game-high 24 in the Elite 8. Okros is averaging 14.5 points on 45.8 percent (11-of-24) whilst Konrad Kantorski rounds out the scoring with 11.5 points.
“Yeah, offensively we carry a threat through a lot of positions and we have done all year,” said Hopkins. “But the one area we’ve stayed constant was our defensive consistency and there’s a want and need for us to really play effective defence.”
Barking earned its place in consecutive EABL Finals after holding off Charnwood College 78-71 in a rematch of last season’s championship game. Caleb Fuller scored a game-high 26 points to go with 13 boards and Ade Adebayo added 14.
Barking has shot 36.4 percent (56-of-154) from the floor during the playoffs, but hit just 11-of-49 attempts (22.4 percent) from distance in its two wins. Through two games it has forced opponents into 51 turnovers, which it has converted into 51 points, including 28 against Loreto.
Barking is led by All-EABL East Conference First-Teamer Fuller, who has scored in double figures in both playoff games and is shooting 40.6 percent (13-of-32), including 38.5 percent from range. Fuller is also grabbing eight rebounds per game. Adebayo, who averaged 13.3 points on his way to a First-Team selection, will also play a factor.
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