Bristol Academy youngsters make history with National Cup victory
THE Bristol Academy Flyers Under-18s have become the first South West side to win a junior basketball national title since England Basketball began its junior competitions in 1936.
The Flyers were crowned 2013 Sureshot National Cup champions with a 64-58 performance over Lewisham Thunder at the Amaechi Centre, Manchester.
Flyers' forward and SGS college AASE student Tamas Okros gained the Most Valuable Award as he led the Bristol side with 18 points and eight rebounds. Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye added 11 points and Jon Orrells followed with nine.
The SGS college-based club led at half-time by two points with Lewisham tying the game at the end of third quarter, but it was the Bristol side that came out on top and clinched the title as they dominated the last five minutes of the game.
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Flyers Under-18s coach Guy Coles said: "It was a truly great team performance. Everyone played great and it was great to see the leadership demonstrated by Tamas Okros and the rest of our SGS College AASE athletes."
The newly-appointed England Under-17s coach added: "It's a historic win as we have become the first Bristol and South West Club to win a major junior national title in basketball. It's a great recognition for our SGS College programme and our club pathway. Bristol basketball is becoming a dominant force in English basketball and it all comes down to the hard work that all members of our club put into the programme. We have great volunteers and parents in all junior age groups as well as our men's side and their support is invaluable."
Coach Coles will be honoured by the club at half time of the Flyers' next home game on Saturday, March 9.
The Bristol Academy Flyers bounced back from their Trophy semi-final loss and used last weekend as an opportunity to move up to fourth in Division One.
The weekend started well for the Flyers as they secured an 83-76 win at Derby over the Trailblazers. Fran Robles led all scorers with 23 points and an impressive four out of six three-point attempts, while Doug McLaughlin-Williams added 19 points and four rebounds in one of his best performances this season.
The following day, the Flyers were unable to continue their league winning streak losing 68-65 to Essex Leopards.
Flyers had the opportunity to send the game into overtime, but Robles' shot rimmed out.
Coach Andreas Kapoulas said: "On Saturday, we played very well and showed some remarkable signs of mental toughness. Sunday, however, tiredness played a role and despite a good second half we were not able to secure a fourth consecutive away win."
The England Under-16s coach added: "Turnovers were a key stat last weekend. On Saturday, we only committed 11, but on Sunday we had 18 and that gave our opposition 20 points off our own unforced errors. That is an area that we need to improve for us to secure a top four home play-off position in the league."
Flyers do not have a fixture this weekend, but will return to action next week with a double-header weekend away to Westminster Warriors and undefeated leaders Reading Rockets.