When London United moved to Alec Reed Academy two years ago there was understandable uncertainty on both sides about how the proposed partnership would work. Sixteen months later the atmosphere at all home games is electric with the sports hall barely able to contain our supporters, the CEO of the academy starts his weekly senior management meetings with reports about the progress of the basketball team and now Alec Reed basketball team has claimed the ABL title.
Despite the fact that London United has had a very successful previous two seasons with various age categories they were lacking defining moments and our trophy cabinet started to resemble a Tottenham one.
However, the first eagerly anticipated defining moment for the Alec Reed Academy partnership has now come at Leicester Arena when they beat Stoke on Trent College 90-87 to claim the ABL title. Stoke started the game much stronger moving the ball impressively while Alec Reed Academy looked strangely lethargic and missing assignments on defence. When Stoke took a 6 point lead in the first quarter, Coach Szatkowski took the first time out to reshape and refocus his troops. All of a sudden on returning from the break the sudden young Londoners started to play their trademark suffocating defence, creating turnovers and finishing fastbreaks with aplomb. But perhaps most importantly Victor Olarerin started his incredible performance with couple of three pointers and several steals. ARA went on a 17-5 run to finish the first half with a 6 point lead which was greatly helped by Afra Khalil’s buzzer beater from the half line!
In the second half 6’6’’ forward Davidas Gollovcenko found his range to increase ARA’s lead to 16 points with 5 minutes to go and the outcome the game seemed to be a forgone conclusion. However the mercurial Ellias Poorman, who comfortably plays positions 1-4 fouled out with 3 minutes to go and the Londoners started to look slightly nervy.
At the crucial time Olarerin who led all scorers with 27 points alongside Khalil marshalled ARA superbly to weather the storm caused by Stoke’s late come back.
Vitor Olarerin was voted MVP of the Final claiming 27 points,9 rebounds and 3 steals
Coach Szatkowski was delighted when he delivered his verdict ” We definitely needed a performance like that to underline what we have been doing in the last two years. This group of players is incredible and works super hard, but so far we were not winning trophies or titles. Now we have performed when it really matter and hopefully we are opening floodgates for next titles. We have a lot of talented players in our programme so it is completely realistic.”
For full statistics from the ABL Final please click here.