City of Sheffield Hatters v UWIC Archers Sunday 29 January, Ponds Forge, Sheffield, 1:15pm
UWIC Archers and City of Sheffield Hatters meet for the second time in a Women's National Cup final on Sunday at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, tip-off 1:15.
UWIC will be looking to take National Cup honours for the first time on Sunday and also become the first club, other than Sheffield Hatters or Rhondda Rebels, to the win this women's competition since 1998. Thames Valley Tigers defeated Hatters in the '98 Cup Final at Sheffield Arena, and since then the title has been won by either the Yorkshire side or the now defunct Rebels. Also, impressively, for the past 22 years Sheffield have won 14 National Cups and appeared in all but two finals.
As intimidating as this may be for someone entering a final against Sheffield, the book may favour Archers in this match-up as they are the current league leaders, with a perfect 10-0 record, and this also includes a league win against Hatters in December.
'As I have said all along, you have no rights to dream of silverware if you don't make finals!' said Archers coach Damian Jennings.
Indeed Archers have made several finals in recent seasons but other than the 2010 playoff final when they defeated Sheffield 56-52, the Welsh club have been forced into a runner-up position by Hatters.
Sheffield is arguably having their worst season for years with three losses already including a forfeit against Nottingham Wildcats for not having their licence cards. However, head coach Vanessa Ellis is ready for things to turn around this weekend against UWIC:
'We've had a couple of tough weeks and it would be nice to win something to improve people's morale,' she said. 'We're really looking forward to playing a Cup final in Sheffield against our rivals and take home the first trophy of the season.'
The teams head into the final with a couple of injury worries, but with their roster depth that includes several Great Britain players, there will be plenty of talent on display. British players Rose Anderson and Stefanie Collins (174-G-82, college: St.Bonaventure) are nursing injury problems for UWIC and ex-New Zealand international Charmian Purcell is out with a knee injury for Hatters.
'We may be slightly under the cosh with two key players not 100% fit, but the response from our rotation this week in training has been excellent,' said Jennings. 'We did not perform well on the road last weekend, but still managed to secure wins - again I think this highlights the resolve and ambition of not just our leadership group but the ambition of our bench toward the success of this team.
'I have no doubt that whichever unit is fit to play for us we will be looking to perform at a level that ensures we create a chance for something special.'
Among the cast of British players competing Sunday is Hatters guard Sarah Naylor (183-F-83), who is eager to play against their rivals:
'Both the team and I are really excited about playing in another Cup final,' she said. 'Although it's always a tough game against UWIC I think that if we play as well as I know we can, we can come away with a good result.'
Naylor has been one of the league's top shooters in recent years and this season is third in three-point percentage (45%) and shares the top spot from the free throw line with UWIC's Collins (96%).
The top ranked statistical player in Division 1 is also a Hatter and a British potential, Stephanie Gandy. The American-born forward is the league's top scorer (22.8 points per game) and shoots nearly 60% from the floor. Other players to watch out for from Sheffield include another Naylor, Helen, as well as Lauren Thomas-Johnson, Jo Clayden and point guard Lisa Hutchinson - all of whom are national team players.
UWIC is also heavily stacked with British talent apart from the previously mentioned guards Collins and Anderson. Meagan Hoffman (183-F-82, college: Adams St.), Hannah Shaw and Kate Butters all have experience with Great Britain and younger players Francesca Whitby and Kristie Sheils are performing well under the tutelage of Jennings' coaching staff.
The international experience between these teams is not confined to the players, however, with Ellis and Jennings both assistant coaches for Great Britain's Senior Women and Jennings is also the head coach for the Under 20 team.
UWIC and Sheffield met in the 2009 National Cup final and Hatters came out 76-59 winners, their first of three consecutive since that time. Courtesy of: http://www.englandbasketball.co.uk
Chantelle Handy selected the top British players playing abroad in last week's games - 1 day ago
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Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of British players who are currently playing abroad. This week's number one is an international small forward Chantelle Handy (188-87, agency: Two Points). She contributed to an easy Piestanske Cajky's victory against the league outsider Kvarner in the CEWL in Wednesday night's game.
Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of British players who are currently playing abroad.
#1. This week's number one is an international small forward Chantelle Handy (188-87, agency: Two Points, college: Marshall, currently plays in Central Europe Women League). She contributed to an easy victory against the league outsider Kvarner (0-3) crushing them 85-41 in the CEWL in Wednesday night's game.
Handy scored 10 points and had 3 steals in 27 minutes on the court.
Piestanske Cajky (2-0) is placed fourth in the CEWL.
There are only four games left until the end of the CEWL Regular Season. So now every game will be critical.
It's Handy's first season with the team.
This year she averages: 9.5ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.0apg, 1.5spg, 2FGP: 72.7% in two games she played so far.
Handy is currently a member of the British senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to U20 international guard Kennedy Leonard (173-96, currently plays college basketball in the States). She led Colorado to an easy victory against the Southeastern Louisiana University crushing them 112-54 in the NCAA in Wednesday night's game.
Leonard scored 19 points and added 3 assists.
The University of Colorado has conference record this season.
Leonard has individually a very good year with high stats. She averages: 16.3ppg, 1.5rpg, 6.4apg, 2.9spg, 2FGP: 52.1%, 3FGP: 26.9% and FT: 66.7%.
Leonard is in the roster of the British U20 national team.
#3. The British player who performed third best last week abroad was U20 international forward Freya Szmidt (185-95, currently plays in Canada). She was the major contributor in an University of Calgary's victory against the Cougars (4-4) 72-66 in the Canadian university league CIS in Saturday night's game.
Szmidt scored 12 points, had 8 boards, passed 3 assists and added 4 steals in 22 minutes.
The University of Calgary has quite an impressive 7-1 record this season.
It was her team's seventh consecutive victory in a row.
This year Szmidt's overall stats are: 6.0ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.5apg, 3.0spg, 2FGP: 35.7% in two games.
She played for the British U20 national team one years ago.
#4. Guard Shanice Norton (173-97, currently studies in the States) contributed to LSU's victory against the Texas Christian University 67-61 in the NCAA last Sunday.
Norton scored 10 points and had 3 steals.
The Louisiana State University has conference record this season.
Norton's total stats this year are: 5.8ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.1apg and 1.6spg.
She used to play for the British U16 national team
back in 2013.
#5. International forward Ella Clark (190-92, college: Long Beach St., currently plays in Italy) contributed to a 1-point Umbertide's victory against the closely-ranked Broni (2-7) 56-55 in the Italian Serie A1 on Sunday night.
Clark scored 8 points in 37 minutes.
Pallacanestro Femminile Umbertide (3-6) is placed seventh in the Serie A1.
Clark is currently first on the league's list of best blockers with 1.0bpg.
This year her other stats are: 8.0ppg, 5.3rpg and 1.2spg in nine games.
Clark plays currently for the British national team.
#6. Forward Shequila Joseph (190-95, is currently at the American university), who plays in the NCAA could not help the Mississippi to beat the West Virginia University.
She scored 6 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Mississippi was defeated 66-61 at home by the West Virginia University.
Joseph has been at the team for four years.
Joseph's total stats this season are: 5.4ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.3apg and 1.3spg.
She is a former U20 international player as she played for the British team two years ago.
#7. An experienced international guard Rachael Vanderwal (175-83, college: Boston U., currently plays in Spain) managed to help Mann Filter Zaragoza in a victory against the closely-ranked CREF Hola (3-8) crushing them 84-60 in the Spanish LFB last Saturday.
Vanderwal scored only 4 points in 17 minutes.
Mann Filter Zaragoza (5-6) is placed tenth in the LFB.
This year Vanderwal's total stats are: 6.1ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.5apg and 1.6spg in 11 games.
She is also British national team player.
#8. Center Azania Stewart (195-89, agency: Josep and Nicolas, college: Florida, currently plays in Spain) contributed to an easy victory against the sixth-ranked Cadi La Seu (5-6) 72-54 in the Spanish LFB on Sunday night.
Stewart scored only 4 points.
Campus Promete Logrono (4-7) is placed 11th in the LFB.
They ended the series of four consecutive loses.
Stewart has averaged so far 5.8ppg and 4.1rpg.
She plays currently for the British national team.
#9. Former U20 international forward Gemma Bullard (178-92, currently plays in Canada) contributed to an easy victory against the Thunderbirds (3-6) crushing them 73-33 in the Canadian CIS in Saturday night's game.
Bullard scored only 2 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 13 minutes.
The Queen's University has quite an impressive 5-1 record this season.
It was her team's fifth consecutive victory in a row.
But the season just started, so everything may happen.
Bullard plays seventh season for the team.
She has averaged so far 6.3ppg, 3.7rpg and 1.7spg in three games.
Bullard used to play for the British U20 national team
four years ago.
#10. Guard Eilidh Simpson (170-92, college: St.Francis, NY, currently plays in Spain) contributed to an easy victory against the 12th-ranked Maquinaria Ensino (3-7) 60-44 in the Spanish LF2 (second division) last Sunday.
She recorded 8 points and had 4 steals.
Femeni Sant Adria (8-2) is placed second in Group A.
It was her team's third consecutive victory in a row.
Simpson has averaged so far 6.1ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.1apg and 1.4spg.
She is an international player who is currently on the senior British National Team roster.
The list of other players, who all have British passport but never been selected to any of British national teams:
#1.Louella Tomlinson (193-F-88, college: St.Mary's, CA, currently plays in Hungary). She could not help Miskolc (5-3) to beat PEAC-Pecs (7-1).
Tomlinson scored only 4 points, had 14 rebounds, passed 4 assists and added 2 blocks.
Miskolc was defeated 59-54 at home by the leading PEAC-Pecs.
It was Miskolc's first loss after three consecutive victories.
Tomlinson belongs to league's best blockers and is ranked #3.
Her overall stats this season are: 9.5ppg, 6.9rpg, 1.9apg and 1.8bpg.
Tomlinson has a dual citizenship: British and Australian.
#2. Experienced Shona Thorburn (178-G-82, college: Utah, currently plays in France) was not able to help Nantes Reze in their game against Bourges (8-1) in the French LFB.
She scored 8 points and added 5 assists in 31 minutes.
Nantes Reze lost 72-83 on the road to the leading Bourges.
Thorburn is ranked fourth on the list of the best passers in the league with 4.8apg.
This year her other stats are: 7.0ppg, 4.3rpg and 1.9spg in nine games she played so far.
Thorburn is another player who holds two passports: Canadian and British.
#3.Alexandra Bunton (198-C-93, currently plays in EEWBL) was not able to secure a victory for Dynamo Moscow (4-1) in their last game. Despite her good performance Dynamo Moscow was edged 77-74 in Gdynia by the second-ranked Basket.
Bunton scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 26 minutes. It was her first game for Dynamo Moscow this season.
It was Dynamo Moscow's first loss after four consecutive victories.
The Regular Season already ended in the EEWBL.
Bunton has both British and Australian nationalities.
Despite her British passport, Bunton currently plays for the Australian U22 national team and is not eligible to play for the British team.
#4.Lavinia Da Silva (187-C-88, currently plays in Italy) couldn't help Virtus Cagliari (2-7) in their game against Orvieto (6-2) in the Italian Serie A2 (second division). Despite her very good performance on Sunday night She recorded a double-double by scoring 16 points and getting 15 rebounds. Da Silva also added 2 blocks.
But this is still an early stage of the season and everything may happen.
Da Silva belongs to league's best rebounders and is ranked #3.
She has very reliable stats this season: 12.8ppg, 11.2rpg and 1.2spg.
Da Silva also holds two passports: British and Portuguese.
#5.Ejay Ofomata (180-G/F-86, college: Central State, currently plays in Italy) was the major contributor in a Udine Delser's victory against the tenth-ranked Fanola SML (3-6) 52-48 in the Italian Serie A2 (second division) on Saturday night.
Ofomata scored 9 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 28 minutes.
Delser Udine (5-4) is placed sixth in Group B.
But the season is still in it's first stage and everything can happen.
Ofomata has relatively good stats this year: 13.4ppg, 6.9rpg, 1.4apg and 2.3spg in nine games.
She has Nigerian and British nationalities.
Stephanie Gandy(178-F-82, college: Michigan) has been handed the Molten WBBL Player of the Month award for November after coming into a rich vein of form. The former WBBL MVP and Great Britain player has showcased her outstanding versatility for Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters by turning up the heat and producing some big displays. While the month opened with the disappointment of a surprise WBBL Cup reverse to Sevenoaks Suns, it was not for the want of trying from Gandy who was the... [read more]
Stephanie Gandy (178-F-82, college: Michigan) has been handed the Molten WBBL Player of the Month award for November after coming into a rich vein of form.
The former WBBL MVP and Great Britain player has showcased her outstanding versatility for Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters by turning up the heat and producing some big displays.
While the month opened with the disappointment of a surprise WBBL Cup reverse to Sevenoaks Suns, it was not for the want of trying from Gandy who was the standout player for the hosts.
She also came up with the goods in vital WBBL Championship wins against Archers and a successful revenge mission against Suns.
Gandy averaged a superb 24 points per game and achieved that from a fine shooting effort after converting 58% from the floor.
She also added an excellent 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and two assists per game.
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters have made a statement of intent for the remainder of the WBBL season by finally completing the addition of Jessica Heilig(183-PF-92, college: Gardner-Webb). After months of hard work overcoming paperwork and visa issues, the forward will now add further depth to a frontcourt already boasting the likes of Brittany Winborne and Deborah Rodriguez, as the Yorkshire club look to continue their tilt at honours this season. A graduate of Gardner-Webb in the N... [read more]
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters have made a statement of intent for the remainder of the WBBL season by finally completing the addition of Jessica Heilig (183-PF-92, college: Gardner-Webb).
After months of hard work overcoming paperwork and visa issues, the forward will now add further depth to a frontcourt already boasting the likes of Brittany Winborne and Deborah Rodriguez, as the Yorkshire club look to continue their tilt at honours this season.
A graduate of Gardner-Webb in the NCAA, Heilig averaged 11.8 points and 5.7 rebounds during her Senior year.
She then went on to play for Charlotte Invasion in the WBCBL and is now ready to make her mark on her debut in Europe.
The 24-year-old will make her first appearance this weekend in the game against fellow title challengers, Team Northumbria.
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