Islington Panthers are ready to pounce on promotion

ISLINGTON Panthers Under-16s remain on course to cap a brilliant season with promotion after cruising through the first round of the English National Basketball League play-offs on Saturday.

The Panthers, who play their home games at St Aloysius College, are on course to step up to the Premier Division after topping the South 1 Conference table with 13 wins from 14 matches.

And they were in superb form against Welsh outfit Gwent in the opening round of the play-offs, storming to a 99-53 victory at St Aloysius to set up a clash with Westminster in the second round on Saturday .

“The boys did well against Gwent, they kept their focus and really it was all over by the third quarter. “It means a lot to the whole club for them to have got this far. They’ve come a long way this season by working together,” said coach Will Akuffo.

Akuffo is also the coach of the St Aloysius College side which won the English Schools’ Trophy last season, with about half of his players competing for both the College and the Panthers.

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“I’ve known most of them a long time. Guys like Andrew Andreas and Benjamin Nkossi I’ve known since they were in Year 7 at College, now they’re in Year 11.

“Benjamin’s been a really big player for us, I can think of a few matches this season where he’s carried us.”

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Islington Panthers, the only national league side in Islington, have about 150 players competing regularly, with Akuffo coaching sides from Under-13 level up to Under-21 level.

The Under-21s are also harbouring promotion ambitions in the London Metropolitan League, needing to win two of their final three league matches to emulate their younger club-mates and make the play-offs, with Akuffo believing it is a case of success breeding success.

“Young people love playing for the Panthers, particularly the younger guys, who see the older age groups winning at a higher level and they want to follow in their footsteps, they want to achieve.”

n Anyone wishing to support the Islington Panthers Under-16s as they continue their promotion bid can come and watch them play Westminster at St Aloysius College at 12pm on Saturday.

n To sponsor the Islington Panthers, call Will Akuffo on 07950603500, or visit www.islington

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