Teams set for sea­son tip-off

Albany Advertiser - - SPORT - Tim Ed­munds

Grand fi­nal re­matches will kick off the men’s and women’s A-grade com­pe­ti­tions in the Al­bany Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, which be­gins on Tues­day.

Last sea­son’s pre­miers Knights will take on Bark­ing Owls in the grand fi­nal re­match to be­gin the 2018-19 sea­son.

Knights broke through for the A-grade ti­tle in their maiden sea­son when they top­pled the ex­pe­ri­enced Bark­ing Owls by 12 points in the grand fi­nal in March.

Nine teams will con­test the men’s A-grade ti­tle, with the in­clu­sion of The Farm Ath­let­ics re­plac­ing Pel­i­cans.

Tigers, Crabs, Kin­jar­ling Thun­der, Am­bas­sadors, Al­bany Spar­tans and the Raiders un­der-18 de­vel­op­ment squad are the other A-grade teams.

The women’s A-grade com­pe­ti­tion has ex­panded from four teams back to five af­ter Phoenix opted to re­join A-grade hav­ing con­tested B-grade for the past two sea­sons.

In round 1 of the new women’s A-grade sea­son, reign­ing pre­miers Pan­thers will face Mag­pies, also a grand fi­nal re­match, on Tues­day night.

In the men’s B-grade com­pe­ti­tion, the ABA has added a third di­vi­sion, with 22 teams nom­i­nated across the three di­vi­sions.

Twelve teams will vie for the women’s B-grade ti­tle. New ABA pres­i­dent Rob Whalley said it was pleas­ing the women’s A-grade com­pe­ti­tion had re­gained Phoenix to boost the com­pe­ti­tion.

He said the ABA con­tin­ued to grow, with more than 200 teams reg­is­tered across all grades.

The in­clu­sion of the new Year 3 com­pe­ti­tion has 13 new teams of young­sters in­tro­duced to the sport.

“The num­ber of teams now is just mas­sive — we have over 200 teams — and not in­clud­ing the new Year 3 com­pe­ti­tion, we are still up on last year,” Whalley said.

He said the ABA was com­mit­ted to strength­en­ing all grades, with a fo­cus on de­vel­op­ment and coach­ing.

Pic­ture: Lau­rie Ben­son

Knights' Henry Al­forque drives to the bas­ket in last sea­son’s A-grade grand fi­nal.

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