Oaklands College hosted the countries first official National League basketball fixtures for the season having met all of Basketball England’s Return to Play Guidance.
“It was an honour to host the first official basketball games in the country and I want to say thank you to everyone here at Oaklands College who behind the scenes made the event possible” said Michael Ball, Head of Basketball at Oaklands College. “It was wonderful to welcome so many basketball friends back on court and see teams playing once again. It will continue to be a challenge as we move forwards, but the sport has done a fantastic job of supporting each other and making sure that we can deliver a safe environment to compete in.”
Oaklands College Principal, Zoe Hancock, added “we were really pleased and proud to host National League Basketball in a Covid-secure way on Saturday. It is wonderful to be able to welcome basketball back and we look forward to a great season ahead.”
Charlie Ford, Basketball England’s Chief Operating Officer was delighted to see basketball back. “After 7 months away from competitive basketball, it was great to see NBL teams back on the court at the weekend. Everyone in the game has pulled together to follow the new Covid-19 processes and protocols that we have established ensuring our return is conducted in the safest way possible.”
“We would like to thank all of the clubs, educational establishments and staff who worked tirelessly over the weekend in the live streaming of the L Lynch Trophy games.”
The day started with a junior Under 14 girl’s friendly game in the morning between Oaklands Wolves and Richmond Knights which then led to the main event with two L Lynch Trophy games. After Hemel Storm finally overcame a determined Reading Rockets team it was time for Oaklands Wolves to play their first ever Men’s game at the Division 1 level. Although finally going down against the experienced Thames Valley Cavaliers, there were some really positive signs for the young Oaklands Wolfpack.
Head Coach of the new look Wolves, Thomas Baker, had a positive outlook saying “firstly it was great to see basketball being played again and early on we showed we can compete at this level. I thought it was an excellent job by everyone involved at Oaklands in terms of getting the court ready, and it was a great for us to be able to showcase the facilities we have at Oaklands and I am really looking to stepping on the court again next weekend.”
Oaklands Wolves player Toby Gastaldi-Davies, one of eight players out of the eleven in the team who were either current Oaklands College student athletes or alumni, said “We came out fighting and playing our way and it resulted in a strong first half from us. However, Thames Valley came out swinging in the second half leading ultimately to us losing. We should be proud of how we played early on, and I think the score doesn’t reflect our first half, but we must compete throughout the game.
A new addition to the squad, USA guard Jordan Santiago, who displayed in his first game glimpses of the excitement he can bring to the floor added that “it was great to finally put a Wolves kit on and compete on our home floor. I think we showed great effort and can sense we are starting to build something special. If we can stick to our style of play and show some grit on the defensive end, we’re going to turn some heads in this league.”
Dave Ryan, current Oaklands Wolves team manager and the Director of Leopards who oversaw the final move of the famous club over to Oaklands College was proud saying “it was great to see basketball back at Oaklands on Saturday. Both Wolves and the Division One clubs have worked so hard over the summer to get the game back up and running. It was fantastic to be the club who staged the first competitive games this season.”
“The professionalism of the Wolves was one of the main reasons we brought Leopards to Oaklands, so I know the club's legacy is in good hands.”
The Wolves will continue their L Lynch campaign with another series of game hosted at Oaklands College this coming Saturday as they take on Hemel Storm at 5.45pm whilst beforehand at 2.45pm Thames Valley Cavaliers face Reading Rockets.