Ipswich Basketball will be at home in the first round of the 2017 National Basketball League Division 2 Playoffs, and will welcome London Westside to the Copleston Sports Centre this Saturday evening.
The whole world is invited – and it’s free if you are wearing club colours!
Ipswich have been made to wait to confirm the matchup having finished their regular season slate earlier than Westside or Nottingham Hoods, but following losses by both teams to Kent Crusaders and Westside beating London Pioneers, the seedings have now been solidified.
The tie gives Ipswich a chance to overhaul two single-digit defeats to the Londoners this season, both games having seen Ipswich dealing with key absentee’s.
Head coach Nick Drane is confident that, with a full squad available this time around, his team have what it takes to advance to the semi-finals. “Westside have had their best season since we have been in Division Two, they are well coached and have some really talented players. They beat us twice in the regular season, only three team’s in the entire league managed that so we know this is going to be a really tough game,” said the Head Coach, who will be coaching his final home game for the men’s team on Saturday.
Ipswich travelled to Westside for the second game of the season with a crocked line up. Without Tom Sadler or Colin Dockrell, and with Leigh Greenan only just back from surgery the Londoners dominated Ipswich, taking a nine point win. Later in the season, with Sadler and Dockrell both available Westside put in an impressive performance at Copleston, again winning, this time 74-82. But this time Ipswich were without the dominant presence of centre Greenan. On Saturday, Drane will have his full roster at his disposal.
Ipswich went into the Christmas break sitting in eighth place with a 5-7 record, struggling with injuries and finding it difficult to get into any kind of rhythm. After the festive season, the team has put together a 7-3 record, charging up the league table and remarkably finishing in the top four for the third time in four seasons.
Westside have one of the most exciting talents in the country on their roster. Kayne Henry-McCalla has taken the league by storm this season, averaging over nineteen points per game. The 6’6 guard is a do-it-all player and is taking his talents to Blair Academy in America next season. Kayne is supported by the dynamic play of guard Marcus Anderson, who will be keeping the likes of Rory Winter, Luke Mascall-Wright and Eddie Ferreira very busy.
For Ipswich, the main man in the second half of the season has been Greenan, the seven footer has put together some eye-popping stat lines since Christmas. On the season the big man is good for twenty points, twelve rebounds and three blocks. However, those stats are slightly diluted as Greenan was playing with a minutes restriction until mid-November. Mascall-Wright has been a constant threat this year with nineteen points, five rebounds and five assists while captain Sadler has again been Mr Consistent, despite a number of nagging injuries, with his customary fourteen points and seven rebounds per outing.
Ipswich can also boast their own super-talent in the form of eighteen year old Caleb Fuller. Fresh off being named to the All EABL First Team, the youngster has put up seventeen points and seven rebounds for the Suffolk side.
Should Ipswich advance they will face the winner of the game between the number one seeded Kent Crusaders and number eight seed Derbyshire Arrows away from home.
With playoff basketball in Ipswich on Saturday, combined with the fact that this will be the last time we get to see Head Coach Nick Drane parading up and down the sideline with this team, this game is must-see local sport.