Newham Youngbloods Under 16 Boys faced their second game of the weekend as they took on local rivals Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA) in the 3rd Round of the U16 Boys Basketball England National Cup in a highly anticipated match up between both sides. Youngbloods won the tip off as they got off to a fast start with Termon Serrant scoring the first points of the game quickly followed by strong play inside by Devante Abana-Odita as he converted the basket and was fouled, knocking down the free throw from the line to take an early 5-0 lead for the visiting side. NASSA launched an instant comeback as they went on a 7-0 of their own to take the lead for the first time in the game as Youngbloods tired legs following the trip to Southampton the day before began to show. Youngbloods Laja Ogidan and Gabriel Sanni brought the game level again as they both split a pair of free throws. However poor defence early on from Youngbloods put them in foul trouble early on enabling NASSA to get to the free throw line on multiple occasions and thus giving the home side NASSA early advantage in the first quarter leading the game 18-12 at the end of the first stanza.
Youngbloods inflicted first damage at the beginning of the second quarter to bring the game within 4 points before NASSA hit back three points of their own, with both sides trading baskets with Youngbloods briefly able to gain the lead through a Termon Serrant three-ball from beyond the arc, as the two sides continued to trade baskets and lead as a Menelik Stanley drive to basket and finish with an Alex Distras’ made free throws giving the visiting side the edge late on in the second quarter. Laja Ogidan dominated the last two minutes of play in the second quarter with solid defence and production on the offensive end showing his versatility on the floor. A tied game with a minute left to play before the halftime break as Good ball movement on the offensive end for Youngbloods, set up a comfortable 3 point shot for David Olupitan who coolly knocked down the shot to give Youngbloods a 3 point lead heading into the halftime break.
Just as the ended the first half, Distras stepped up and nailed the shot from the deep beyond the arc to extend Youngbloods lead to 6 early on. Shortly after Richmond Ariyo converted the strong drive to the basket to provide an 8 point cushion however as the previous two quarters foul trouble was to haunt the visiting team as Youngbloods were soon in foul trouble which lead to a spat of 10 free throw attempts for NASSA as they converted 5 out of the 10 whilst also going on a 10-0 unanswered run as they took the lead, up by 5 points with 2 minutes to play in the third. Olupitan, Distras and Serrant had plans of their own as they combined well for a run of 8 points as the introduction of Titas Zydelis in to play led to instant success as he scored in transition on a fast break with the score tied 53-53. Youngbloods had waited until the last minute of the game to finally be awarded with a free throw as a result of NASSA being in the team penalty, with Olupitan stepping up to the free throw line and calmly knocking down both from the charity stripe to give Youngbloods a 55-53 lead ahead of the final quarter.
NASSA closed the gap straight away following a score inside, before Olupitan ands Distras both knocked down shot from deep to give Youngbloods the lead by 4. A foul called on Youngbloods gifted a free shots to the home side and coverted one of two before another score by Ogidan despite heavy contact saw no foul called. Olupitan was full in confidence and this was clear as he again knocked down the three ball, banking the shot off the backboard to give Youngbloods a 6 point lead, and his confidence brought his team mates the same token with momentum clearly with the Youngbloods team heading into the final 5 minutes of play. The intensity of defence for the visitors would increase yet again as they restricted NASSA to only 4 points in the last five minutes as Ogidan again showed his wonderful display in the final quarter as he continued to cause problems and converted his chances given whilst securing rebounds on both ends of the floor. With 30 seconds remaining Abana-Odita was fouled and headed to the line knowing his side were already up by 9 points and slotted home both free throws to give the Newham Youngbloods the local bragging rights in this National Cup tie with a 75-64 final score as they restricted NASSA to only 11 fourth quarter points.
“The team fought through a long weekend full of adversity and when things didn’t go our way we kept battling, never giving up, keeping their composure along the stretch and a positive end result.” said Head Coach Aaron Senior