National Preparatory Association heavyweights, Toronto Basketball Academy opens their campaign on Nov. 9 against GTA Prep. This intriguing battle starts the cross-division games throughout the NPA.
TBA fell short of their goal last season in the National Championships in heartbreaking fashion but finished with a strong 10-4 record during the regular season.
Head coach, Adeel Sahibzada understands losing players like Viera hurt but is optimistic that players like Masters, Diew Moses, Chad Vincent and Patrick Maoyi will have huge roles. “They are all going to be instrumental in our success,” says Sahibzada.
With exciting new talent coming into the team, their returning players should not be overlooked in the slightest. NPA Defensive Player of the Year Eman-Yak Eman will look to continue growing on his outstanding play from last season.
“We return arguably the best 3 man-tandem in the NPA, Eman-Yak Eman, along with emerging stars in Patrick Emilien and Tarig Eisa! This season we will also have a chance to see the emergence of young up-and-coming talent in one of the top players in Canada, Amir Gholizadeh. Ahmed Khalid, a 6’11 big will also need to step in fill some big shoes,” said Sahibzada.
With a great mix of returning players with new and young talent, coach Sahibzada says he feels confident heading into the new season, looking to the veterans to lead the younger players.
One of TBA’s greatest strengths is their deep squad and that allows them to play at a high level throughout the game. Sahibzada is hoping to carry that recipe for success into the upcoming season. “We will play very up-tempo, fast, interchangeable, and defend!”
TBA will be welcoming a very strong GTA Prep team with a lot of talent including 2019 No. 1 ranked player AJ Lawson. Sahibzada has a lot of respect for their program and the team but he will employ multiple defensive looks in order to keep GTA in check.
“GTA is talented, it will definitely be an exciting game. We will be able to use multiple lineups to contain and manage the different players they have. Looking to throw some different looks at the defensively that they’re not accustomed to seeing,” said Sahibzada.
TBA will be looking to use some of that home cooking to their advantage and set the tone at home in front of their supporters.
“It’s always great to play at home, always feels like you have that home-court advantage with the crowd supporting you,” says Sahibzada.
GTA Prep are coming off a disappointing season last year in the NPA but they have reloaded in a big way!
Lawson aka Captain Clutch is more ready than ever to cement his claim as the top prospect in his class. With players including dominant big man Kaosi Ezeagu, Joshua Haughton and many more surrounding Lawson, GTA Prep are well equipped to make some noise this year.
Tai Chau, a member of the GTA coaching staff, says he feels very fortunate to have most of his team fully fit and ready to go for their season opener.
Lawson is one of those key pieces and Chau wants to see Lawson become a true leader in all aspects of the game in order to push this team forward.
“We would love for AJ to take more of a leadership role not just in scoring but to be able to lead & communicate more with his teammates. We want him to encourage and to motivate them on and off the court,” said Chau.
GTA Prep finished last season with a frustrating 4-10 record and with a difficult game against TBA, they will need to lock in defensively for 40 minutes.
“TBA is a young and talented team. We always respect our opponents but we believe that if we play well on the defensive end we will have a chance for a W,” says Chau.
Tip off is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9, 2:15 PM ET.