Ipswich Basketball Academy (based out of Copleston Sixth Form) headed to London on Wednesday to compete in the first ever EABL/WEABL National 3v3 Championships. Copleston were one of two academies in the whole of the country that had qualified both their under-19 men’s and women’s teams to the event, following the qualification rounds across the country earlier in the season.
The competition was hosted by the City of London Basketball Academy, and organized by the EABL and WEABL, the country’s premier divisions for basketball academy teams. The atmosphere inside the sports hall was electric from start to finish as the event was something of a who’s who of British Basketball Development.
However, the show stopping event of the day, and quite possibly the lives of many of the young players and spectators involved, was the surprise entrance of NBA superstar Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, who was in the capital ahead of the NBA’s global games at the O2 Arena on Thursday night.
The tournament itself was another demonstration of the level of talent in the EABL and WEABL, with multiple junior internationals on display. On the under-19 women’s side Copleston ended up finishing a respectable fifth place in the country, after losses against Charnwood and Oaklands, before beating Nottingham in the 5th/6th playoff.
It was Copleston’s under-19 Men who grabbed the headlines, however, beating Bournville College in the final to be crowned the first ever EABL 3×3 National Champions. Copleston beat JMA and Charnwood on route to the final, in which the Ipswich boys took down their opponents 15-13 in an exciting final.
In addition to meeting basketball mega star George, and the title of National Champions, the four Ipswich winners, Caleb Fuller, Rory Winter, Jonny Hall and Cameron Hawes were awarded complimentary tickets to the NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.
Speaking after the event Ipswich Basketball Academy Director Nick Drane was delighted with the performance and the experience.
“This was an amazing event,” he said. “The 3×3 game is becoming bigger and bigger across the world and as always the guys who lead the EABL and WEABL did a phenomenal job of putting on a great event.
“For us, winning a national competition was great, I’m really proud of both teams for reaching the finals and winning the EABL competition was awesome.
“It’s also a nice way to remind people that with more and more academies popping up across the UK, Copleston and IBA continues to be one of the leading programmes in the country, and the young players in the east region and in our club need look no further than what’s on their doorstep for the best basketball opportunities.”
As one of only two programmes in the country to qualify both their boys and girls teams to this event, Copleston and Ipswich Basketball Academy served further notice that their partnership continues to produce of the flagship elite basketball academies in England.
“The whole thing was a bit surreal…”
Rory Winter: Everyone played their role to perfection, the team really gelled and had no issue with sharing the ball and the responsibility – everyone was accountable! The atmosphere at the event was incredible, the EABL put on a great event and I’m just pleased I could be a part of it and come home with the championship. The chance to meet Paul George really topped it off for me, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Cameron Hawes: The tournament had a very competitive spirit on the day right from the get-go. I felt all of us did our jobs exceptionally well especially as it meant bringing home the championship! Meeting PG and being in the presence of a top NBA player was an incredible experience too.
Caleb Fuller: All our guys played a part in the win – we had guys hitting threes, our big man was getting rebounds, I thought I did a good job scoring, but it was a great team effort to get the win. It’s been very competitive; 3×3 is a really quick game so everyone has the chance to show what they can do, and I think it speaks wonders about our club to come out and get the win.
Jonny Hall: It was a great experience and a great event. Everyone played a key role in the team’s success; the whole thing was a bit surreal as well with meeting Paul George, and winning the NBA tickets, but to be the first players from the academy and the country to win a national 3×3 championship is an honour. I just hope we can retain it next year!