The Sevenoaks Suns Men’s basketball programme has had a fresh lick of paint this past season, notably in sporting a newly designed kit as well as a great number of new players.
A period of interruptions caused by measures to contain Covid meant that the previous season was cut short and practice courts were closed for several weeks and months at a time. This did not stop basketball enthusiasts from the area, old members and new ones alike, to express their desire to return to play as soon as possible.
With a new structure in place, 15-18 players were picked to represent the 1st team in the Medway League. The combination of veterans, new members, and young players who have come through the club’s youth programmes meant that building chemistry and teamwork were of utmost importance. The enhanced roster also gave longstanding players such as Pawel Jankowski and Massimo Pighin a chance to take a backseat in certain games to embed the new players into the rotation.
The season started rather slow for this group with close losses to established teams from Maidstone and Dartford. The coaches realised that success was not going to come overnight and patiently plugged away at the areas that needed improving. The spell was broken in a win against the Maidstone Wizards in late November which marked a turning point for the team.
Starting Center, Gus Moller, had a standout performance early in the season and then suffered from injuries that meant he had to significantly reduce his minutes until he healed up. Once back to form, he scored a season-high 33 points in an away game against Bromley Fury. Nauris Ernstsons found himself in a new position on the wing this season, which meant the team was able to benefit from his length, agility, and experience, and subsequently spread the defense to create more opportunities in half-court play.
Other notable performances were starting point guard Jerric Alcoran’s fast-break plays, as well as veteran leadership by David Martin and Sam Hunt, which were much needed as certain plays in crucial moments, required experience and calm. The team’s youngest player, 16-year-old James Akerman, provided a much-needed boost at the point guard position and benefited greatly from Jerric’s tutelage. Lastly, U16 coach Carlos Henry joined the fray towards the end of the season to address roster shortages due to injury, but also to prove to everyone that he is still the unofficial MVP of the Medway League.
The team finished the ‘regular' season in 3rd place behind Gravesend’s Guru Nanak and Maidstone Royals upon which the league introduced Phase Two where the 4 best teams from Division 1 formed a bracket to compete against each other twice. Following this, the teams will enter the playoffs as well as take part at the end of season Rosebowl Cup. There is still plenty of games to play before the group starts the off-season period.
Interim coach, Pras Gengatharan, is hopeful that this team will cement their learnings from this season and return in the autumn with a renewed sense of purpose and a mentality to address unfinished business. Next season, both 1st and 2nd men’s teams will be reshaped and fine-tuned to provide a strong presence across Medway League divisions.