April 7, 2014 – Newham All Star Sports Academy’s (NASSA) Under-13s basketball team have been crowned national champions for the third year in succession. They won the 2014 England Basketball National Final Fours competition at the Worcester Arena on Saturday, beating Leicester Warriors 117-62 in the final.
The victory marked a third consecutive triumph in that age group for NASSA captain Enoch Denkyirah who first played for the Under-13s side when he was just 10.
Led by coach Chris Facey and assistant coach Aurimas Verbukas, the NASSA team – Division South II winners during the regular season, made a quick start against Midlands winners Leicester. They raced out to a 26-17 first quarter lead before extending it to a 57-43 half-time advantage.
The two sides had never previously faced each other but it was in the third quarter that NASSA’s high-powered offense and pressing defence took the game away from their opponents with particularly strong play from MVP Emmanuel Obeng-Amponsan and Enoch Denkyirah. NASSA outscored Leicester 33-9 in the third quarter giving them an unassailable 90-52 lead entering the fourth.
They cruised to victory with Dylan Darbin, Hadrian Basilio, Elliot Quail, Teresa Da Silva and Tyreese Garrod also prominent.
Earlier in the day, NASSA’s semi-final against Bradford Dragons had begun tightly before good work from Normanas Custovas, Tautvydas Mieliauskas, Caleb Garcia, Tim Colie and Jonathan Fakile turned a slender 15-14 first quarter advantage into an eventual 94-59 victory.
Speaking of the win, NASSA ‘s director Natasha Hart said: “This is phenomenal. It is only our seventh year of competing in the National League and we have won the Under-13s championship three years in a row. “
NASSA’s Under-15s side finished third in their Final Fours competition, also played this weekend at the Worcester Arena. After losing their semi-final 94-68 to Cheshire Wire, they recovered to win the the 3rd place play-off with a convincing 86-67 victory over Sheffield Junior Saints.
Coached by Aurimas Verbukas and his assistant Kelvin Chris Facey, the Under 15s team was made up of Kevin Boatey , John Manzon ,Dante Bishop, Wandai Tawenuga, Benjamin Akyeampong, Opemiyan Okesade, Derrik Mendioro, Seyone Shiskantha, Omar Agbandje, Zekeus Blue Shagourie, Dimitru Bandol and Devante Abana-Odita.
Natasha Hart added: “Third place is still a brilliant achievement, so well done to them. Both teams have worked exceptionally hard all season and I am thrilled for them. We would like to thank all the parents, volunteers, supporters for their continued support. Our aim now is on ensuring that the teams remain focused and are prepared for the challenges ahead.”
There was further good news for NASSA on Saturday when its senior men’s team, in its first season in National League Division One, reached the play-offs by beating Westminster Warriors 69-50. Their task in the play-offs is a tough one. This Saturday they travel to face last year’s champions Reading Rockets.