The finals of the Jr. NBA Basketball England League ended yesterday at the National Basketball Performance centre in Manchester with St Peter’s emerging victorious in the co-ed league. St Peter’s, representing NBA franchise the Orlando Magic, prevailed over Philips High School representing the Sacramento Kings and were crowned champions by NBA Legend Vladimir Radmanovic. St Bede’s and Oldham Hulme Grammar School finished in third and fourth place, respectively.

Ahead of the two finals, Radmanovic hosted a Jr. NBA Clinic, teaching children basketball fundamentals and the values of sportsmanship and teamwork. The event also included a shooting contest presented by Spalding, which was won by Luke Owen and Bradley May, two young students from Oldham Hulme Grammar School. Each received a trophy for their efforts.

The tournament, a secondary school basketball programme for boys and girls aged 11-12, was organised by the NBA in association with Basketball England and tipped off last November. It saw the participation of 30 Manchester-based secondary schools, which battled it out in an eight-game season followed by single-elimination playoffs and today’s league championship. Each school represented one of the 30 NBA teams and received corresponding NBA team branded T-shirts for their games.

Luke Owen and Bradley May commented on their victory in the Spalding Shooting Contest. Luke said: “It was great to test our shooting skills, I’m really happy we won in the end”, to which Bradley added: “I can’t wait to show this trophy to my friends!” Their coach, Mr. Gary Conway concluded: “The kids have had the opportunity to show all the abilities that they’ve got and this is brilliant.”

St Peter’s coach Simon Perry spoke after his team’s triumph: “I’m immensely proud. The kids have worked hard for this and we’ve got the result we wanted. On how it is for kids to be part of the Jr. NBA competition, Perry said: “The NBA is a brand that the kids know, they watch it on TV and to actually put the shirt of the Orlando Magic on makes them really proud.”

On the impact that basketball has on the kids, St. Bede’s coach Alan Wright said: “We have a core group who is really into basketball. They want to play every time the opportunity arises and the sports room is free. They have really enjoyed this experience and they have worked very well throughout the whole year. Coming to this sort of environment, with NBA coaches and NBA players is fantastic.”

Commenting on his second place, Philips High School coach Gary Davies said: “I’m very pleased with the way the kids have conducted themselves today. The whole set-up today has been amazing and they’ve loved it.”

NBA Legend Vladimir Radmanovic also commented on the Jr. NBA programme: “It is great to see how the NBA supports the growth of basketball in the UK. These experiences can be incredibly meaningful for kids as they teach them the values of teamwork and respect that are enshrined in the sport of basketball, and hopefully they will apply these values in their everyday life.”

Image: NBA UK
Source: Pitch London