Crusaders ready for top flight of English basketball

Medway Park Crusaders Basketball logoMedway Park Crusaders are gearing up for their inaugural season in the top flight of English basketball.

The Crusaders will be competing on three fronts next season – the National Cup, National Trophy and EBL1 League and play-offs - and have made a number of key summer signings to bolster their roster ready for the new season.

The Crusaders’ first match couldn’t be tougher, opening up with a National Trophy game away to defending EBL1 play-off champions Reading Rockets.

The National Trophy features all teams from EBL1 split into two groups. The groups play a single round robin in September and October before league play begins. The top four teams from each group progress to the quarterfinals, leading to a showcase final in February.  Medway Park’s games include away games to established EBL1 teams Reading and Derby and home games against BA London Leopards, PAWS London Capitals and last season’s EBL2 league champions Bradford Dragons.

The Crusaders’ first home game at Medway Park will be at 3pm on Sunday, 18 September, when they host Hackney White Heat in the first round of the National Cup.

The National Cup is a knockout competition featuring 62 teams from EBL1, 2, 3 and 4.  Medway Park have progressed to the last 16 of the cup for three consecutive seasons, losing at that stage each time. 

The Crusaders tip-off their league campaign at home on Saturday, 29 October at 5pm when they host PAWS London Capitals.  Last season Capitals returned to EBL1 after a two-year stint in the professional British Basketball League (BBL). 

Picture of Medway Park Crusaders Chairman Jesse SazantThis year EBL1 features 13 teams. The teams play a 24 game schedule playing each other home and away. The top eight teams then progress to the play-off quarterfinals, with the winners advancing to the EBL Final Fours in Manchester in April. 

Crusaders Chairman Jesse Sazant said: “Seeing our fixture list makes being an EBL1 team feel much more real.  We’ve got a real challenge in front of us against established teams like Bristol, Leopards, Reading, Leeds and Worthing. We’re working hard to put together a team that will be in the play-off mix in our first season in EBL1.”

He added: “Our head coach James Vear is a real credit to the club.  He has worked effortlessly since the season ended to develop our style of play and find players that will fit in on and off the court with what we expect from our men’s players.  I’m fully confident that he will continue to lead the team forward.”

Key summer signings for Medway Park:

Picture of Crusaders Basketball signing Joe Schow

Canadian forward Joe Schow (6’9) played for Dalhousie University last year where he was a league all-star and averaged 14.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He is the fourth Canadian to play for Crusaders following in the footsteps of Walter Moyse, Simon Mitchell and Brad Smith.

Adrian Fenyn (6’6 forward) has joined Crusaders from Leeds Carnegie where he led EBL1 in scoring the past two seasons. Fenyn is originally from New York where he played at St John Fisher University, where he was part of a group that won 100 out of 118 games in his four years, breaking a school record. Picture of Crusaders player Adrian FenynHe was also MVP of the British Universities final eights in 2010 and represented England in the Home Nations university tournament.

Damoy Robertson (6’2 guard) is one of the best up-and-coming English guards. He was a key player for Brixton Topcats in their EBL1 campaign last year and was selected to represent England at the British Universities Home Nations tournament.

Luke Baker (6’1 guard) joins Crusaders from EBL1 rivals Westminster Warriors. He spent most of last season as one of the top scorers in EBL2 and was known league wide for his deadly outside shooting as he played a key part in Westminster’s promotion to EBL1.

Athletic guard Nathan Ashley spent last season playing for Brixton in EBL1 and is a player Coach Vear has had his eye on for a while. 

Gareth Laws (6’2 guard) joins Crusaders after a season off Pciture of Crusaders basketball signing Damoy Robertsonwith injury problems.  Laws is well known in the basketball community having played for London Towers and Plymouth Raiders in the BBL, and London Leopards, Sutton Pumas and Hackney White Heat in EBL1.

Former Crusader junior Matt Carpenter (6’5 forward) left the club to go to Brunel University, where he captained them in the BUCS (British Universities) premier division. He was the team’s leading scorer and the fifth leading British scorer at the BUCS final 8s, and is now returning to his basketball roots.

Four other key players - James Harris, Akeem Abdul, Disraeli Lufadeju and Tom Raymen - have all committed to another season with Crusaders. Crusaders are not actively recruiting any other players, leaving the final spot open for juniors or a few former players who may return.

Crusaders Chairman Jesse Sazant is really pleased with how things are coming together.  “We think we have put together a really balanced and talented group, with a good mix of experience, youth, potential and versatility.  We’ve also got a core of local young players who will be part of our squad next season, most of who came through our academy.” 

Visit the Medway Park Crusaders website.

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