Congratulations to the Sydney Uni WheelKings who have taken out the 2014 Autumn Wheelchair Basketball League (AWBL) after defeating the Illawarra 45-31 at Kevin Betts Stadium yesterday.
Another successful year of the AWBL saw six highly enthusiastic and talented teams play in three intense rounds of Wheelchair Basketball over the last three consecutive Sundays. Teams entries included Sydney Uni WheelKings, Sydney Uni Flames, Illawarra, Bears, NSW Juniors and Sutherland.
Commencing on 9th March, 2014 at Sutherland Basketball Stadium, all participants brushed off their wheels and rolled onto the courts, eager to start the competition. WS NSW members displayed an extraordinary amount of interest and talent in the basketball arena with the Illawarra dominating the first round. The NSW Juniors were well prepared for their matches after a recent training camp and although they faced much stronger, older experienced teams their improvement in skill over the past few months was noticeable.
The second round was held in North Sydney on the 16th March. With several serious traffic incidents around Sydney, several team members were delayed and matches had to commence with a mix of players and even some parents on the court. Six games of intense competition and friendly rivalry saw the leader board take shape with Illawarra and the WheelKings out in front after the second round.
The third and final round took place at Kevin Betts Stadium, Mt Druitt on 23rd March. All teams battled their closest rivals in the leader board to secure their positions for the finals.The semi-finals saw the WheelKings take on the Flames and Illawarra up against the Bears with the favourites winning both matches. Before taking to the courts for the all deciding final, a Come and Try Wheelchair Basketball event was held to celebrate the opening of the Wheelchair Basketball Training Centre at Kevin Betts Stadium. Gerry Hewson, Josh Meoli and Caitlin de Wit ran the session with two courts running for both juniors and adults. People of all ages and abilities were encouraged to grab a chair and start wheeling! Our new members also got to meet Sydney Kings player Shaun Gleeson who participated in the Come and Try session and tried wheelchair basketball for his first time. Basic wheelchair skills and basketball games were played, sparking new interest, discovery of talent and encouraged members to get involved in wheelchair basketball events run by WS NSW such as the AWBL.
The final match was extremely competitive between Illawarra and the WheelKings with both teams fired up and eager to take the win. Each player fought hard until the end but the energy the WheelKings had conserved during earlier matches of the day helped them secure a 45-31 win and 2014 AWBL title. Whilst the final was played, the fifth and sixth placed developing teams, NSW Juniors and Sutherland, also took to the court to get some more game time. The match was point for point throughout all four quarters with the Sutherland Sharks ecstatic with their first win of the league, narrowly defeating the NSW Juniors 30-28.
Huge congratulations must go to the WheelKings followed closely by Illawarra who were a dominantly strong team throughout all three rounds. The Sydney Uni Flames and the Bears battled a close game for positions of 3rd and 4th whilst the Sutherland Sharks secured 5th place after their close win in an intense game against the NSW Juniors who finished 6th. Well done to all teams and their players on their undying enthusiasm, commitment and sportsmanship displayed throughout the 2014 competition.
An extended congratulations to the All Star 5 recipients; Michael Auprince, Craig Cannane, Josh Meoli, Ashley Hutchings and Rhys Baxter as well as Yarra Ryan for being awarded the Most Valuable Player.
Wheelchair Sports NSW would like to personally thank all referees, coaches, volunteers and parents who were involved in the 2014 AWBL. Their dedication of time and skill was the foundation of this year’s event success. Good luck to all players who are competing in the upcoming National Wheelchair Basketball League and to our developing teams, keep training hard.