Watch Ipswich Basketball Club phenomenon Leigh Greenan as club prepare for semi-final

Leigh Greenan has had a dominant season. Pictures: PAVEL KRICKA

Leigh Greenan has had a dominant season. Pictures: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

With three teams still in the hunt for silverware, this weekend is an important one for Ipswich Basketball Club.

Nick Drane and the senior team head south on Saturday afternoon to face Division II regular-season champions Kent Crusaders in the semi-finals of their playoffs, while also on Saturday Adam Robinson’s Under-18 Women will travel to Oaklands in the national quarter-finals.

The only home action of the weekend is on Sunday, when the Under-16 Girls coached by Amy Linton entertain Surrey Goldhawks.

For Drane and his squad, Saturday is a chance to exact some revenge on a team who have beaten them twice this season – as had last weekend’s vanquished visitors, London Westside.

“We can’t wait,” said the outgoing head coach, who will step aside at the end of the season.

“Kent beat us twice this year, but we were absolutely with them in both games and found ways to sabotage ourselves. In both games, we played exceptionally good basketball – as you need to do if you want to keep up with the league champions – but it says a lot about how our season has gone that we could very well have won both of those contests.”

The Crusaders represent a different challenge than London Westside, who were blown away by Ipswich’s fast start last weekend and had no answers for the ferocity of the Ipswich defence.

Ipswich skipper Tom Sadler has been a veteran leader

Ipswich skipper Tom Sadler has been a veteran leader - Credit: Archant

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“We had game-planned perfectly for Westside and knew exactly what we were going to do against their various offenses,” added Drane.

“Kent are a different prospect offensively but we’ll be ready for them.”

The junior girls’ teams both head into the weekend with genuine chances of reaching national semi-finals of their own.

In the Under-18s contest, Robinson and his team travel to an Oaklands side that finished 17-1 in the regular season, but in a less competitive conference than Ipswich, who finished 9-6.

And Linton’s girls are hoping to get the same crowd as the men witnessed last weekend when they tip off at 11am on Sunday, hosting the Goldhawks.

In the regular season schedule Ipswich compiled a 10-7 record, compared to the Goldhawks’ 9-6.

Head coach Nick Drane steps down at the end of the season

Head coach Nick Drane steps down at the end of the season - Credit: Archant

Perhaps more importantly, Ipswich won the only match-up between the two.

“It’s going to be an incredibly tight contest,” said Linton. “We all saw how much of a boost our senior team got from a huge crowd last weekend, and I’d love to see a lot of people turning out again this weekend.”

- Meanwhile, the club’s twin towers are both up for individual accolades as the National Basketball League Division II Most Valuable Player shortlist was announced on Wednesday.

Leigh Greenan and captain Tom Sadler have both been shortlisted for the award, which this year is being decided by public voting on Facebook.

Ipswich is the only club to have had two players nominated; the other candidates are Englishmen David Watts (Nottingham Hoods) and Kayne Henry-McCalla (London Westside) and American quartet Richard Austin (Newcastle University), CJ Jones (Tees Valley Mohawks), Martelle McLemore (Thames Valley Cavaliers) and John Shodipo (Kent Crusaders).

Greenan has averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds and over two blocks per game this season and has been at his imperious best as Ipswich have revived their season since Christmas, winning eight of their last 11 games.

In an injury-hit season, Sadler has averaged 13 points and six rebounds, including some clutch performances in wins over Newcastle and Derby.

“I’m flattered to be have been nominated for the award,” said Sadler. “It’s been an incredibly turbulent season with the early-season struggles, losing three of four before Christmas, and then our incredible form in 2017.

“It’s great that the two of us have been nominated. Leigh definitely deserves to win the award, he’s really been the dominant force in our excellent form over the last couple of months and no one can stop him.”

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