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Owen Parker

Owen Parker writes

Posted Monday, May 14th 2018

Coach Khan named Division Four South West Coach of the Year

Bristol Flyers II head coach Ehjaz Khan has been honoured with the Coach of the Year award for NBL Division Four South West.

The award caps off a successful first season back in the National Basketball League (NBL) for Bristol Flyers II, who finished top of the league with a record of 17 wins and three losses.

The team brought together alumni and current students from the SGS basketball academy programme, students at UWE and veterans from past Flyers teams. The players' recent experience was spread across WEBBA local league play, junior national league competition and limited BBL exposure.

This varied group had limited time to gel as the season quickly followed the trials process and they were thrown into a challenging first month, picking up two confidence-building wins against Huish Taunton Tigers and Cardiff City away from home.

Flyers faced their first losses at the turn of the month. They struggled offensively in their first league game of the season, losing to Reading Rockets II and Cardiff City. Flyers II put together an impressive run heading into the Christmas break, winning seven games in a row including five on the road.  

January was a pivotal part of the season, with two games in two weeks against league leaders Huish Taunton Tigers. A crushing one-point defeat on the road in Taunton left a league win looking unlikely, but Flyers rallied and won a three point victory at WISE to take the head-to-head over Taunton in league play.

Flyers II faced the only other team to beat them in league play in Reading Rockets II in March, where they were unable to secure a win and with three losses it looked as though they would be unable to catch Tigers. Nevertheless, Coach Khan kept the team focused, winning all of their remaining games to finish out the season in strong form.

Flyers and Tigers finished out the season with matching records of 17-3, but the crucial head-to-head victory meant that Flyers took the top spot and won the league.

Flyers progressed to the Division four play-offs, but were knocked out by a similarly well-coached side in Derby Trailblazers II; their own head coach Kyle Henderson winning Coach of the Year honours for the Midlands conference of Division four.

"To win coach of the year was a total shock and a real honour, especially to be recognised by other coaches," Coach Khan told bristolflyers.co.uk.

"In my first year coaching men’s basketball in the national league, we set ourselves targets but quite honestly I never considered this award.

"As with any award, there are a number of people who collectively helped to achieve this. I am grateful for all the help and support I received from many people but in particular I would like to thank the team and also Ben Roper who has spent an endless amount of time helping.”

Flyers II will seek promotion into Division three South next year having earned the right to apply with their league win. Trials will be held over the off season and the team will return next year looking to build on their successful first season as they face bigger challenges.