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Bury St Edmunds Bulldogs and County Upper to face off in Division Three of the NBL with new derby set to develop




Two Bury St Edmunds men’s teams are set to compete against each other in the National Basketball League (NBL) next season after both gaining entry this summer.

The Free Press had previously reported how the Bury St Edmunds Bulldogs were seeking to re-enter a side into the NBL after around a decade away.

That was accepted through to Division Three – the country’s fourth tier – last week, along with County Upper Basketball’s new men’s side.

BURY: Bury St Edmunds County Upper U19 Elite basketball Left to right top: Owen Day, Bradley Day, John Bourne, Jordan Boyd, Eivis Kriunas, Kelechi Asuzu, .Left to Right Bottom: Phil Ennis-Bugg, Arron Nelson, Tom Revell, Cameron Poolton.. - last home game 4.15 tip-off versus Gateway College from Leicester Picture Mark Westley. (13368347)
BURY: Bury St Edmunds County Upper U19 Elite basketball Left to right top: Owen Day, Bradley Day, John Bourne, Jordan Boyd, Eivis Kriunas, Kelechi Asuzu, .Left to Right Bottom: Phil Ennis-Bugg, Arron Nelson, Tom Revell, Cameron Poolton.. - last home game 4.15 tip-off versus Gateway College from Leicester Picture Mark Westley. (13368347)

Darren Johnson, head coach at County Upper, explained a link up between the two had not been possible and they wished to give their Under-19 Boys Elite team the experience of men’s basketball alongside their Academy Basketball League fixtures.

“From 2010 to 2012 we did a men’s national league team but at that point we stopped and concentrated on doing a club to develop our own players,” he said. “But now we want to add this on as you will have seen we have the ABL games but some of them have seen us running up 50-60 point wins and we need to be challenged a bit more.

“These games should be a bit tougher physically as you will have 17 and 18 year olds playing against grown men.

“It is about trying to help players bridge that gap between here and the leagues in America or Europe.”

He said the team would not just be made up of teenagers from the Bury St Edmunds-based school’s academy programme though, also drawing on a Suffolk pool of players to give people in the area more opportunity to play at a decent competitive level.

A common misconception he wishes to break is that County Upper Basketball is a club for pupils only, as he explained of their eight teams from U12s upwards, only one – U19 Boys – is restricted in that way.

Johnson is hoping Spanish coach Angel Navarro, who spent eight years as a head coach in the Liga Endesa (Spain’s top league division), will lead the new men’s side, though contract negotiations are yet to be finalised.

Anyone wishing to try out for the side is asked to email Johnson: djohnson@burytrust.org

* See next week’s Free Press for a round-up of Bury Bulldogs’ awards



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