Jelani Watson-Gayle looked right at home as he claimed MVP honours in the under-16 All-Star game at the inaugural Hoopsfix All-Star Classic – despite it being his first time playing at such a level.
The Newham Youngbloods guard led a second-half fight-back, which saw Team Black recover from a 39-32 half-time deficit to win 76-68.
Team Black outscored Team White 25-13 in the third quarter to swing the game their way after coach Alan Keane called for more intensity on the defensive end.
“The majority of players out there were England players and this was my first time playing against them so I thought it was a pretty good first time,” said Watson-Gayle, who finished with a team-high 14 points. We played defence that contributed to our offence and that was [the difference] really. Coach said to just keep the tempo up, because we had a sluggish start. I think some people were a little bit nervous.”
Newham Youngbloods U16 Boys Head Coach, Aaron Senior “Jelani had the oppurtunity present to him as a result of our highly successful season and his performances at the National Final-Fours, and he deserves it. He trains and works hard, a model professional for younger players at our club and shows that persistance and loyalty pays. Today he proved he can play with and against the best. We at Youngbloods are certainly proud of him and We certianly wish Jelani well in his first set of Games for the U16 England National Team this upcoming weekend vs Sweden”
Image Credit: Abdul Kassim Photography / Hoopsfix