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#1 seeds ready to challenge for WEABL glory

Krumesh Patel during a timeout of last season's WEABL Final

With the start of the WEABL playoffs just around the corner, #1 seeds in both the Northern and Southern Conference are gearing up for what they hope will be a successful playoff run.

Both Charnwood College and John Madejski Academy will be aware that they have a great shot at claiming the WEABL title, but that potential success is founded on a long season of hard work and commitment, both in practice as well as during games.

“I think we have a lot of possibilities to have a great play-off run,” said JMA head coach Joan Portero Luque.

“We have been working really hard during the season for this moment and the girls are really excited to be in the post season.”

It was a sentiment shared by Luque’s opposite number in the North, Charnwood’s Krumesh Patel, who was quick to point out a potential pitfall that teams can face at this stage of the campaign: “It’s been a long season with a lot of ups and downs on and off the court. I think the playoffs will be a interesting run, whichever team stays healthy has the best chance.

“If we play to our strengths and limit other teams, we will be in the battle all the way. This group done well to get where they are, especially after what the team did last year and with so many players moving on.”

Finishing the regular season with a 7-1 record and top seed in the Southern Conference, the Rockets have managed to beat fellow playoff qualifiers Copleston, Barking and City of London Academy this year, with their only defeat coming on the road against CoLA late in the season.

Charnwood enjoyed a similar run in 2019/20, losing just one game against #2 seeds Nottingham Academy Wildcats to go with eight wins as the Riders dominated their competition for long stretches of the schedule.

But now the regular season is completed, and one and done playoff basketball awaits for Charnwood, JMA and the other six teams in the mix to grab the WEABL crown. For Luque and Patel, they’re more than aware of what they need to do to keep their side’s successes going for just a few games longer.

“For us it’s down to how well we score the ball,” said Patel.

“If we knock down shots and limit turnovers we will have a chance.”

“To go deep in the playoffs, we need to keep to our identity,” added Luque.

“We aren’t a selfish team but we need to keep sharing the ball to break down defences. Our strong point I feel is our defence and we need to show that consistently.

“For sure I think this will be the key for us if we are to succeed.”

The opening round of the WEABL playoffs begin tomorrow afternoon as Charnwood take on #4 seed Barking, JMA match up with #4 seed Sheffield, #2 seed Copleston host #3 seed Manchester Mystics Academy and #2 seed Nottingham take on #3 seed City of London Academy.

The WEABL playoff final will take place alongside the EABL and ABL finals at University of Essex Sport Arena on Wednesday 18 March.