DOUBLEHEADER GAME PREVIEW | REBELS WOMEN vs LONDON LIONS | D1 REBELS MEN vs BARKING ABBEY
ESSEX REBELS WOMEN VS LONDON LIONS | WBBL | 4:00PM TIP-OFF
Essex Rebels Women are preparing to upset the reigning WBBL Playoff champions, London Lions, this Saturday to start their Women’s British Basketball League campaign.
With the exciting summer acquisitions of Darcy Rees , Dayzsha Rogan, Tyra Whitehead, Katherine Tudor , and Renee Busch, the team will be looking to make a statement in the league as they look to improve on their 6th place finish from last year.
This Saturday will also mark the debut of Ashley Cookson, who took the job as Head of Basketball Performance in May this year. Cookson has previous experience of coaching in the league having been assistant for the Leicester Riders, however, this will be the first time Ashley takes the reins as head coach, following previous spells abroad in Canada and Sweden.
Standing in our way are the formidable London Lions who completed a domestic quadruple last season for the second time in a row, winning the cup, trophy, championship, and play-offs. Rather than rest on their laurels, Lions have continued to invest heavily in their squad, boasting several high-profile ex-WNBA and EuroLeague players in their ranks as they look to conquer domestically again.
WHAT COACH COOKSON HAS TO SAY:
“We are excited to get our season underway in front of our home fans. We have been making a conservative effort in this week of preparation to focus on competing every possession regardless of the outcome and letting our toughness shine through.“
WHO ARE LONDON LIONS?
London Lions are based in Stratford, East London, and have been at the forefront of British Basketball’s growth on-and-off court since investment firm 777 purchased the Lions in 2020.
Since the takeover, Lions have swept nearly every domestic competition going, winning two titles in the 2020-21 season followed by two successive quadruple winning seasons domestically. Lions have also competed in the EuroCup for the past three seasons, regarded as Europe’s second-tier professional basketball club tournament.
London Lions have made a number of blockbuster signings this summer who carry considerable WNBA and EuroLeague experience as they signal their ambitions both domestically and in Europe. These include Megan Gustafson (formerly of Olympiacos in the EuroLeague), Clerodane Green, and GB Internationals Temi Fagbenle and Savannah Wilkinson.
London Lions had high hopes to qualify for the EuroLeague for the first time in their history but were beaten 135-121 on aggregate to Hungarian side DVTK Hun-Therm, demoting them to the EuroCup competition for the third successive season. Lions bounced emphatically back with a win against Odessa Barreiro to kick off their EuroCup campaign and followed this up with another impressive win on Wednesday away to Belgium side, Castors Braine, winning 87-76.
LAST TIME OUT
Rebels were beaten soundly in a one-sided 106-44 defeat when the two teams faced off at the Essex Sport Arena on Saturday 14th January. Katsiaryna Snytsina led London’s charge with 15 points, whilst GB International Holly Winterburn nearly achieved a double-double performance.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Look out for Megan Gustafson who was one of most accomplished performers in EuroLeague Women with Olympiacos last season. The 6’4 centre from America joins the WBBL having boasted a number of accolades, with honours including ESPNW National Player of the Year, AP Player of the Year, Big Ten Athlete of the Year, and the prestigious Naismith Trophy.
University of Essex graduates, Will Twigg and Gurhan Gurses, currently hold Academy coaching positions with London Lions, whilst another Essex graduate, Jacob Lloyd, was recently appointed Assistant General Manager for the Lions.
ESSEX REBELS D1 MEN VS BARKING ABBEY | NBL DIVISION 1 | 6:30PM TIP-OFF
Essex Rebels D1 Men return to the Essex Sport Arena to face off against Barking Abbey. After a spectacular comeback against Worthing Thunder in front of a record-breaking crowd of 1077, the Rebels are hoping to continue their success at home.
Rebels faced a loss on the road last weekend, falling short against Derby Trailblazers in an 82-61 defeat to move them to 1-1 for the season. In a low-scoring affair, Luke Busumbru stood out with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Barking Abbey, meanwhile, have lost their two opening games, losing at home to newly promoted City of Birmingham Rockets 81-63, followed up by losing away to Nottingham Hoods last Saturday 95-61, so will be eager to score their first points of the season.
WHAT COACH NORFOLK HAS TO SAY:
“We are excited to get back in front of the Rebels crowd this weekend. Spooky Hoops is going to be a great atmosphere. Barking are always a tough match up. They are well coached and have some of the UK best young talent. We have to make sure we are ready to battle with them and execute our game plan!”
WHO ARE BARKING ABBEY?
Barking Abbey are an elite basketball academy, based at Barking Abbey School in London. Since being established in 2005, Barking Abbey has been a hotbed for developing basketball talent in the UK having offered a pathway into the BBL and WBBL for London Lions, with the partnership coming to an end last season.
In their first season since ending their partnership with London Lions, Barking have made a few notable additions to their squad including Sam Akano from Solent Kestrels, and guard Juan Manning who was at Thames Valley Cavaliers last season. Nedas Cholevinska, who impressed in the league last year, left Barking Abbey after signing his first pro deal in Lithuania.
Barking Abbey narrowly avoided relegation to NBL Division 2 last season, finishing 12th, and have had a tough start to this season losing their two opening games against City of Birmingham Rockets 81-63, and 95-61 against Nottingham Hoods last weekend.
LAST TIME OUT
Rebels were beaten 74-63 when they last faced Barking Abbey at the Essex Sport Arena on December 10th 2022. Moziah King-Danchie was a standout for BA with 20 points, whilst Owen Chose and Lee-Linton Hodges led the scoring for the Rebels with 21 and 16 points respectively.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Look out for Moziah King-Danchie who impressed last time he came to the Essex Sport Arena. The 6’3’ guard and former EABL finals MVP is one of the top prospects in the UK and is coming off a great summer with GB U18s.
Tickets are still available on Eventbrite. Don’t miss out and secure your tickets for our Spooky Hoops Special!