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Manchester Giants Academy Team soars to new heights, winning the league championship for the first time

In an exhilarating display of skill, teamwork and determination, Xaverian’s Manchester Giants Basketball Academy Team has emerged as league champions for the first time since being established in 2021.

Led by their dynamic Coach, Paul Cantwell, and fuelled by an unwavering belief in their abilities, the Giants embarked on an unforgettable season. From the first tip-off to the final buzzer of the championship game, they demonstrated unparalleled resilience and a passion for the game.

Throughout the season, the Giants overcame numerous challenges, displaying their invincible spirit. From hard-fought victories against formidable opponents to dazzling comebacks in the face of adversity, the team exhibited an attitude that inspired both their teammates and loyal supporters.

The Giants’ success was undoubtedly a result of their remarkable roster, which boasted a perfect blend of experience and youthful energy. Number 26, Stanley Njekwe, said: “My most memorable moment this year is when we played Moulton College in our sports hall and a lot of people came to watch. I played very well scoring 37 points with our team winning the match, and after the match I had people posting clips of me and coming up to me. It made me feel good and proud of what I had achieved. However, my proudest moment at Xaverian was when I dunked a lob on a fast break playing in the sports hall and the whole crowd went crazy!

“I have always played for the Giants and couldn’t see myself playing for any other team, so I saw studying at Xaverian College as a great opportunity to combine my passion with my studies. My favourite subject has been BTEC Sport, because I have always loved learning about everything to do with sport. The teaching at the College is great and especially my Coach, as he always makes sure I have all the support I need to fulfil my basketball commitments and keep on-track with my College work.”

Now in its second year, Xaverian’s Basketball Academy, in partnership with Manchester Giants, allows students, who enjoy basketball and have the intention of turning professional, to split their time between College study and training and playing basketball.

Students, who are successful in gaining a place on the academy, spend four afternoons a week training with the Manchester Giants (who are currently in the top tier British Basketball League) and three mornings and a full day on-campus.

The academy has 22 players across two divisions. Academy One plays in the College Basketball League (CBL) Tier 3 North Division and, as their season comes to an end, have a guaranteed promotion to Tier 2 of CBL, as they currently top the league by 9 points with a record of Played 12, Won 11 and Lost 1.

Academy Two played in the AoC Sport North-West South League. They remain undefeated at the halfway point of their season and had memorable wins against Loreto Sixth Form College and Manchester College.

Paul Brooke, Assistant Coach and Sport Teacher at Xaverian, commented on the academy’s success: “Our partnership with Manchester Giants is working really well and achieving its objective of developing emerging talent through the academy programme. We are excited for the future and look forward to seeing how the teams develop and the success we hope to achieve.”

All Academy students need to demonstrate an excellent track record of success playing basketball, meet Xaverian’s academic requirements and take at least a single block of BTEC Sport as part of the academy programme. For more information, visit xaverian.ac.uk.

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