Four primary schools from across Scotland travelled to the Emirates Arena on Friday to compete in the 2019 Jr. NBA Final Fours! Children from Liberton, Kingsford, Our Lady of Peace and Milton of Leys – who represented Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, Memphis Grizzlies and LA Lakers respectively – were joined by former NBA player Boki Nachbar, Glasgow Rocks player Kieron Achara and Caledonia Pride players Sian Phillips and Tia Weledji as they enjoyed an afternoon of basketball at the home of Glasgow Rocks.
The first Semi-Final saw Nets Kingsford play Bulls Liberton and the former started well, building a 9-4 lead in quarter one. Bulls Liberton, who won the trophy last year, tightened up their defence and conceded only one basket as they gained the lead (16-11) at half-time. In the second half Liberton continued their form, eventually progressing to the final with a 42-21 victory.
Grizzlies OLOP and Lakers Milton of Leys were up next as they battled it out for the remaining place in the final. Lakers held a 3 point advantage after an even first quarter, however they extended their lead with a strong offense in the second to go into the break 27-16. The team continued their offensive play in the second half and earned a 48-28 win.
The third placed game tipped off at 4pm as Kingsford and OLOP competed for the bronze medal. The first quarter was the highest scoring quarter of the afternoon, with a score of 21-16 to Brooklyn Nets Kingsford at the buzzer. The Nets continued to be on top throughout the rest of the game and finished winners by a score of 43-24.
At 5pm the final tipped off and Lakers Milton of Leys started strong, building up a 6 point lead after the first quarter. Bulls Liberton improved both their offense and defence in the second quarter and overturned the Lakers’ advantage, leading 25-15 at HT. The Bulls defence was the star of the third quarter as they prevented the Lakers from scoring a basket and extended their lead to 16 points. The Lakers looked to be coming back into the game with a strong start to the fourth but Liberton held on to successfully retain their Jr. NBA Championship with a 45-32 win.
Throughout the afternoon Boki, Kieron, Sian and Tia spent time with all the children, signing autographs and posing for photos. The schools were also asked to interview the players and asked a number of questions about their careers.
The children were then invited to watch Glasgow Rocks as the BBL side hosted Manchester Giants in the first of two weekend fixtures. The game was as successful as the earlier competition, with the home side winning 80-69.
At half-time, the trophy presentation took place in front of a bumper crowd, with each participant being handed their certificate, medal or ring by a professional player.
Overall the day was a huge success as basketballscotland continues to work with the Jr. NBA to grow participation across Scotland. Plans to introduce a wheelchair division and expand to new regions are already in place for next year’s program.