ABL Final preview – Haringey v Dagenham Park

The Academy finals from Manchester’s National Basketball Performance Centre get underway with the ABL final between Haringey Sixth Form College and Dagenham Park. 

With no competition in 2020/21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with the 2019/20 season cut short before the playoff final due to lockdown restrictions coming into force, this season represents the first chance to crown stand-alone champions since 2018/19. 

Haringey were the victors during that 2018/19 season, beating St Charles College 107-90 to claim their first ever ABL title. They added the shared title from 2019/20 when their final with New City College couldn’t be completed, meaning tomorrow’s outing represents a chance for a third consecutive ABL crown. 

For Dagenham Park, they’re in uncharted waters. Having never reaching this stage before, a victory would be an upset against their more experienced opponents, but no less than is deserved after a spotless regular season. 

Going a perfect 14-0 to win the Eastern Conference at a canter, coach Maslen’s side closed with a hefty +/- of 628, creating an average margin of victory of nearly 45 points across the campaign. 

Not to be outdone, Haringey also went 14-0 to conquer the London Central conference and their 641 point differential suggests a level of dominance during the regular season greater than even Dagenham could impose. 

Both teams have eased through the playoffs for the most part, booking their place in tomorrow’s showpiece following some impressive performances. Haringey reeled off consecutive 26-point wins against Queens School and former winners St Charles, though they were made to work against Northolt High School last week, eventually scraping by 71-69. 

Both teams have eased through the playoffs for the most part, booking their place in tomorrow’s showpiece following some impressive performances. Haringey reeled off consecutive 26-point wins against Queens School and former winners St Charles, though they were made to work against Northolt High School last week, eventually scraping by 71-69. 

There’s been no such issues for Dagenham, who opened their playoff campaign with a commanding 103-59 victory against Crest Academy before knocking out Bracknell & Wokingham College 98-65. 

Their final four clash with former co-champions New City did produce a closer score line, but tomorrow’s finalists would ultimately prevail 89-70. 

As you would expect from an end of season spectacle, both these teams have plenty of talent at their disposal. Haringey’s Chukwudi Dioramma was a popular choice for the London Central’s MVP, with guard Kamali Taylor also picking up the Most Improved Player award. 

The accolades didn’t end there, with Dioramma also picking up the U17 Player of the Year award, whilst Haringey Coach Franck Batimba was also recognised. 

Dagenham had an equally impressive representation in their own conference’s end of season honours. Guard Brandon Tchouya and Haydn Ling both received All-Conference First Team nods, with Tchouya also picking up the Defensive Player of the Year title. 

Wing Klaudijus Pakalnis has a bright future ahead of him after being earmarked as the U17 Player of the Year, and former EABL winner with Barking Abbey Pierce Maslen was named Coach of the Year. 

In an even contest between two sides who have very much become accustomed to winning, fans are sure to be in for a treat as the 2021/22 ABL playoff title is decided to kick off tomorrow’s trio of games. 

Haringey head coach Franck Batimba: “I am proud of the boys for making it this far. They have worked hard all season and deserve to be here. The job is not done yet. We know we have to come to Manchester ready. This our 3rd consecutive ABL final and we are determined to win.” 

Dagenham Park head coach Pierce Maslen: “It’s a great achievement for our guys to be here and reflects all the hard work they have put in throughout the year. We are proud of having a lot of success within our first year in full competition and will be looking to build on this in the future. We will be doing what we have done all year, we’ll play our game and the rest will take care of itself.” 

ABL Final live stats HERE