Year: 2017

Haris Tournament

Special exhibition game to kick off this year’s Haris Tournament

A special exhibition game featuring past and present Manchester stars will kick off this year’s Haris Charalambous Memorial Basketball Tournament, which runs from Wednesday 27th December to Friday 29th December at the Amaechi Basketball Centre.

Several exciting names are signed up, with details to follow in the next few days.

The exhibition game tips off at 4pm on day one, followed by the tournament’s first round of matches at 6pm and 8pm.

Manchester Magic U18s will face local rivals Myerscough College in their Pool A opener, while England U18s face Danish side Værløse in Pool B.

At 8pm, Spain’s CB Novaschool take on Elite Academy Antwerp from Belgium in Pool A, while Magic’s U16s meet Charnwood College Riders in Pool B.

The full tournament schedule.

Tickets for the annual three-day event are £3 for day one, £4 for day two and £5 for day three. Alternatively, you can buy a £10 ticket that covers all three days. Call 0161 881 0090 to buy your ticket now.

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 tame the Royals

Mystics U14 I have worked hard on their fitness since September so it is somewhat ironic that the lack of it affected us in our home game versus Tameside I last Sunday. Emily Wood was suffering from a sore throat. (Others might give it a more medically correct label but I can’t spell tonsillitis…..) Daisy Bryan had been laid low by a head cold. Zara Masadeh-Tate had been laid even lower by one. (Emily and Daisy started out at Tameside so were desperately keen to play and dragged themselves in. Zara didn’t so she didn’t.) Charli Wroe is normally fitter than 3 fiddles but she has just got back from America-to see her brother and to ascertain whether Donald Trump is either an alien or a puppet- so hadn’t trained for 3 weeks. Her health wasn’t helped by the fact that during the game she was unlucky enough to get a nosebleed following 2 heavy whacks to the face as well (or unwell) as a dead leg as a result of a late tackle. (How unlucky can one person be?) Kizzy Spence was also unavailable so, as with the fire fighters dealing with the forest fires in the US, it was all hands to the pump.

Apart from health issues (and tissues), the only low spot of the day was a 4 minute spell caused by me rather than a witch. A poor decision on my part cost us 12 points and probably made even our healthy players feel sick. 14 minutes in and we were in control at 31-16 despite having already used all available 10 players, albeit in balanced combinations. In order to give everyone more court time in the first half, I now went for my not-to-be-recommended 5 off 5 on strategy without fully considering the make-up of the 5 going on. (Should it be lipstick or mascara?) With what was ostensibly one guard and 4 forwards, we were as unbalanced as a one-legged chair and understandably(!) lost our offensive fluency and defensive cohesion, as well as most of our lead! 31-16 became 31-28 in half the twinkling of an eye.

I was strongly advised by my more astute assistant to have a re-think. To preserve family harmony, I obeyed. We duly won the remaining 3 minutes 8-2. I cast sentiment aside for the third quarter and we won it 23-6. Now 62-36 to the good, I felt I could act like a pastry chef again and mix things up for the final 10 minutes. It turned out well this time (more like a Victoria Sandwich rather than Victoria station at rush hour) as we won the quarter 18-9 to finish worthy 80-45 winners with our undeniably talented quartet of scoring machines, Olivia Forster, Charli Wroe, Nia Molloy and Lily Hayes all registering double figures yet again.

Many of our baskets came at the end of passing sequences which were very pleasing to the eye with Jo Vourliotis and Daisy Bryan showing their skills in this neglected art. The score may well have been closer had it not been for the defensive tenacity of Lia Vourliotis plus the crucial rebounding ability of the 3 Es, Eleni Vourliotis, Emily Wood and Esha Neyar because Tameside are a tall side -perhaps they should alter their name slightly to Tallside- and are strong on the boards.

With almost half the regular season gone, we remain in contention for a play-off place, having won 6 of our 7 games, losing only to Sheffield who are possibly the strongest u14 team in the whole country. Knowing the first-class attitude, team spirit and togetherness of this delightful group of players, I am quietly confident they will continue to progress. (Unless I do too many ill-advised 5 ons 5 offs!)

Thanks, as always to the staff, sorry, unpaid assistant coach plus joint team managers, James, Sam, Carys and Jim for their invaluable help. Thanks also to the table officials, Mr K Nayar and Ms F Vourliotis for doing such an excellent job as well as to all parents etc. for your wonderful support. As this is my last report before Christmas and the New Year, may I take this opportunity to wish both the people who read my reports a Merry Yuletide and a Happy New Year.


Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 take victory in the ‘real’ Manchester Derby

Forget United v City, the real Manchester derby took place at the ABC Theatre of Dreams last Saturday when Mystics U14 II hosted Mystics U14 I in front of a sell out crowd. Mystics I, still in shock from the realisation that Mystics U16 II had pinched their black kit to go to Derby, immediately received a second shock, in what could only be termed as a shocking day so far, when Emily Taylor had the nerve to give Mystics II a 2-0 lead. Two buckets from the unshakeable Lily Hayes and one each from the high scoring duo of Olivia Forster and Nia Molloy then restored the perceived status quo. (Not one of my favourite groups. They provide as much variety as a one-flavoured box of chocolates.)

After a couple of flashes- literally (now you see her, now you don’t), from the gifted N. Mahmoud who is marginally swifter than a gale force wind, Mystics I made full use of their extra experience to instigate a whirlwind of their own in the form of a 22 point surge in just 6 minutes with the ever improving Lia Vourliotis and her promising cousin Jo Vourliotis prominent.

The second quarter was similarly productive for Mystics I. ( I was going to shorten it to MI but if I had some people might have thought I was referring to a motorway!) with a further 28 points scored principally on the break or following a series of crisp, accurate passes. Mystics II tried hard to respond and could not be faulted for their never-say-die attitude but nevertheless trailed 13-58 by half-time.

Such a large lead gave Mystics I licence to be as experimental as Dr. Jekyl and Prof. Frankenstein combined over the remaining 20 minutes. Defensive match-ups were changed and an alternative offensive philosophy was adopted. To their credit, Mystics II took full advantage , winning the third quarter 16-15 and going down by just one at 10-11 in the fourth as N. Mahmoud and E. Costa combined successfully on several occasions. G Tuck also caught the eye with a couple of nice finishes.

For Mystics I, the aforementioned Lily, Olivia and Nia all showed great skill and commendable maturity in the manner in which they shared the basketball. (They wouldn’t be so generous if cakes were involved!) This enabled one of the youngest players on show, the talented Daisy Bryan to emerge as the game’s leading scorer with 21 points. After seeing their side out-rebounded in the early stages, the spring-heeled Esha Nayar, the hard-working Zara Masadeh-Tate and the all-action Eleni Vourliotis- they are everywhere!- made sure there was no re-occurence thereafter and all 3 were most impressive in their domination of the boards.

As expected, or demanded, this highly entertaining game was played in a delightful spirit and superbly officiated on the floor and on the table.Considering the fact that all but 2 of the players on show are eligible to compete at this level again next season, the future looks even brighter than Orange.

Thanks to all who helped and supported us. Next up for Mystics I is Tameside Royals at Home this Sunday at 12:30pm.


Mystics logo

Mystics’ Jones and Allen make WBBL Stat Stars for November

Manchester Mystics’ Georgia Jones and Dominique Allen make the WBBL Stat Stars list for the month of November.

WBBL Stats Stars for November
Mystics’ @gljones4
4.3spg (1st) 7.7apg (1st) ?? — Manchester Mystics (@Mcr_Mystics) December 7, 2017

Jones averaged 4.3 steals per game (1st) and dished out 7.7 assists per game (1st) over the course of the month of November. 

WBBL Stats Stars for November
Mystics’ @dom_allen12
10.3rpg (3rd) — Manchester Mystics (@Mcr_Mystics) December 7, 2017

Allen grabbed an average of 10.3 rebounds per game (3rd).

Haris Tournament

Line-up confirmed for 2017 Haris Tournament

England Under 18s head the line-up for the 2017 Haris Memorial Tournament, which will run from 27-29 December at the Amaechi Basketball Centre in Manchester.

They will be joined by CB Novaschool Malaga (Spain), Værløse Basketball Club (Denmark), Elite Academy Antwerp (Belgium) and English basketball academies Charnwood College Riders and Myerscough College.

Completing the line-up are Manchester Magic’s U18 and U16 sides.

The eight teams will be split into two groups, with the two top progressing to the semi-finals.

The three-day event, now in its 12th year, is held annually and was founded in 2006 to remember Haris Charalambous, one of the top players to come out of the Magic programme.

Haris died suddenly while training with his NCAA Division 1 Toledo University team in October 2006.

The tournament will also have a new logo for 2017 as we look to raise the profile of one of the top junior events in Great Britain.

We think it’s a great addition to what is a truly fantastic competition.

You can buy a £10 ticket that covers all three days of the tournament.

Alternatively, you can pay for each day: £3 (27th), £4 (28th) and £5 (29th).

To book Tickets in advance call 0161 881 0090.

Community 3×3

We are holding a 3×3 community tournament for teams with kids in Years 7-9 on the middle day of the Haris.

It will run from 2pm to 3pm on Thursday 28th December.

It costs £2 per player, with squads of 4 required. Cost includes entry to that day’s Haris.

Interested teams should contact Toloe on 0161 881 0090 or at

Lina Asobirionwu

Loreto’s Asobirionwu name WEABL Player of the Week

Loreto College and Manchester Mystics’ Lina Asobirionwu has been named as the latest Player of the Week in the WEABL after an impressive performance for Loreto Mystics Basketball Academy in Week 4.

The 2000-born forward put up 32 points along with 21 rebounds and seven steals to lead her side to a 95-55 victory over Moulton.

“Thank you team,” Asobirionwu declared. “It’s a team award and I am really happy for our whole team and the win that was the most important on the day.

“Also, I would like to thank our coach Ollie, who always tries to motivate us and take the best out of us as young student-athletes.”

Head Coach Aurimas Ollie Verbukas added: “Lina has approached this game in a very professional manner at practice in preparation and executed well during the game.

“She is not just a good basketball player, but also a good character on and off the floor. I am and all the team and are very proud of her and this reward is more than deserved.”

Loreto return to action with a road trip to Nottingham this Wednesday.

(source: WEABL)

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 take win over talented Hatfield Fliers

During my frustrating 2 and a half hour 60 mile journey to our home game against Hatfield Fliers, arriving 5 minutes before tip-off to find all of my pre-game jobs/routines all covered perfectly, it struck me that I am in the privileged position of being around two wonderful teams- players and parents. Thank you so much James, Jim, Sam, Carys and anyone else who contributed to ensuring the game went ahead on time. Having arrived at the ABC like 3 of Snow White’s dwarves- Grumpy, Anxious and Stressed- I firmly believe my negative state of mind didn’t help our players during the first quarter. Hatfield’s side is virtually the same one that performed well as a largely under-age group last season. The experience they gained would make them a hard nut to crack. It appeared even harder when they used their length and ability off the dribble to cause us huge problems for the opening 10 minutes, scoring a staggering 24 points.

Defensively, we had performed as effectively as wet sellotape but, fortunately, had been good enough offensively to keep in touch with 19 points of our own, thanks largely to the skill of Charli Wroe, Nia Molloy and Kizzi Spence. Up to now my contribution had been as worthless as Monopoly money and we all needed to pull our socks up. 

Hatfield’s excellent guard, A Racjan opened the scoring very early in the second period to make it 19-26 and many teams at this level would have lost belief. It takes mental strength and togetherness to turn things round against talented opponents. I am pleased to say that this Mystics U14 team has both attributes in abundance. Defensive adjustments and greater focus henceforth resulted in a huge improvement in all aspects of the team display. An almost faultless 9 minutes of team basketball deservedly manifested itself in an eye-catching 22-6 run with Olivia Forster, now at her best, accompanying the unstoppable Charli and the all-action Nia in their quest to make up for our under-par beginning. Credit must also go to Esher Nayar for the superb defensive job she did to limit the problems A Swift had previously caused us. (Swift by name and Swift by nature!) The ever-reliable duo of Lily Hayes and Daisy Bryan (shame we haven’t also got any players named Rose or Poppy because I could then label them as a fine bunch!) were equally instrumental in repelling Hatfield’s offensive weapons so that by half-time we had transformed a 7 point deficit into a 9 point lead in a mere 9 minutes, an outstanding team performance, particularly when one considers that 9 Mystics, including 6 under-age players, had so far seen court time. (Not for crimes committed!)

Our dominance continued throughout the third period. Zara Mesada-Tate and Lia Vourliotis came off the bench to perform with real energy and intent. Jo and Eleni Vourliotis, between them, gave us rebounding strength, an ability to move the ball quickly and accurately and a scoring threat. Everybody else, except the injured Daisy and the absent |Emily Wood, also played their part in helping us to extend our lead by a further 12 points to a very comfortable 65-44 going into the final stanza.

Mid-way through the fourth, more fluent offense and determined defence had given us an unassailable 31 point lead at 77-46 to cap a phenomenal 58-20 run against one of the leading sides in the Northern Conference. This prompted regular and multiple substitutions which understandably impacted on our rhythm, allowing our gallant opponents, who kept going right to the end, to take advantage, making the final score somewhat more respectable at 82-57.

Sincere thanks to all for your help and support, including the fabulous post-game banquet! Next up, Mystics II 9th December now at 3:30pm not 1:00pm.


Manchester Magic and Mystics Referees

One venue, four courses, 24 Level 1 qualified referees

One venue, four courses, 24 Level 1 qualified referees.

It’s been a successful year at the Amaechi Basketball Centre.

Under the expert guidance of Rick Dell, our referees manager, we have made it a priority to develop the next generation of referees.

And Rick’s hard work is paying off.

We ran Level 1 courses in March, May, August and November.

We also ran two Level 2 courses, which have so far resulted in seven qualified officials, six of whom have already taken charge of junior games in the National League.

Most of them are also officiating in the Junior Community Leagues on Friday evenings at the ABC.

Rick has also helped run a Level 3 course and plans to run another Level 2 one on 4-5 January, ensuring we start 2018 as we finished 2017.

“This has been a very busy and exciting time for referees and refereeing at the Amaechi Basketball Centre,” said Rick.

“It’s been a positive change for basketball in the area and we now have a group of teenage referees who are developing very quickly.

“Some of these young referees have shown great potential and I look forward to seeing their future progress.”

For more information about the two-day Level 2 course at the ABC on 4-5 January, contact Rick at or on 07803241172.

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 claim victory in War of the Roses

Our visitors for last Saturday’s War of the Roses (red is so much more colourful than white!), Leeds had made a promising start to the season, beating a strong Hatfield side and pushing league leaders Sheffield all the way. We expected a tough contest and for large portions of the game we got it. For the first quarter and nine minutes of the second, not even Psychic Sally would have dared to predict the outcome. We led 37-29 but Leeds had shown that they possessed several talented offensive players. Our defensive match-ups would need tweaking, as would our help defence.

Up to now, we had performed competently offensively, generally doing the simple things well. A 6-0 run in the final minute of the second period then pushed the lead to 14 by half-time and seemingly did wonders for our young team’s confidence- 8/13 are young enough to compete at this level next season- after the interval. Throughout the third period, Leeds relied largely on a barrage of 3 pointers of varying accuracy and power in an attempt to get back on terms. Mystics approach was kinder on the backboards and less spectacular but far more productive. Eye-catching team offense, full of good decision making and ball sharing, highlighted by effective use of the extra pass to create higher percentage shots resulted in a staggering 33 points over the next 10 minutes with all 11 available Mystics-  the unlucky Eleni is injured again- again making meaningful contributions. 

Now a comfortable 35 points to the good, it was an ideal opportunity to use the whole of the fourth quarter to share court time more equitably. It was used well by everyone in a genuinely excellent, thoroughly enjoyable all-round team performance. The final score of 94-57 was as deserved as it was surprising, given the strength of the opposition. Our 4 most experienced players, Charli Wroe, Olivia Forster, Lily Hayes and Kizzi Spence led from the front, taking it in turns to go on scoring spurts. Additionally, praise for outstanding defensive displays should go to Olivia and Charli. Nia Molloy, Daisy Bryan and Emily Wood all seem to improve with every game and each of them made valuable contributions on the scoring front once more. The dependable quartet of Jo Vourliotis, Lia Vourliotis, Esha Nayar and Zara Masadah-Tate stood out for their defensive displays, particularly on the rebounding front. They, too, are progressing at every turn. 

Many thanks to Sam, Carys, Kayun and Jim for all you did and to all parents and friends for you support. Sadly, no game next week. Next up, Hayfield at home on Sunday 26th Nov. Tip 12:30pm.


Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 record emphatic victory over local-rivals Lancashire Spinners

In just our third Northern Conference fixture so far, as well as being a group who would be hard to beat at Scrabble (check out the surnames!), Mystics U14 1 showed great togetherness and teamwork to record an emphatic 98-29 victory over a battling Lancashire Spinners last Sunday. The bulk of the scoring was done by the game’s outstanding player, Olivia Forster, who, amazingly, still has another year at this level. Olivia was ably backed up by the supremely athletic Kizzy Spence and the pocket dynamo Nia Molloy. More gratifyingly, all 12 Mystics registered points, including an impressive late flurry from Lia Vourliotis and Zara Masadeh-Tate.

Disappointingly, Charli Wroe’s contribution was drastically curtailed by illness so point guard duties were shared for the most part by Lily Hayes and Daisy Bryant. Both again demonstrated their ability to play with poise and intelligence, making sound decisions throughout.

Spinners deserve mention for the part they played in a game conducted in excellent spirit. Their tall centre, R Smith caused us problems in the first half at high post but this Mystics side is full of bright athletes who are keen to learn and improve. Despite giving up several inches in height (and even more centimetres!), Esha Nayar and Emily Wood responded to advice and defended with enormous resolve in a controlled, efficient manner after the interval.

Eleni Vourliotis had been out of action due to a netball- related injury(!) but she more than made up for lost time with an eye-catching display. She combined expertly with her ever-improving cousin, Jo whenever they were on court together and her passing was a pleasure to behold. All in all, it was a delight to watch this young team share the ball and do the simplest thing to get the job done.

Thanks to James for his words of wisdom (fortunately not of the Norman variety) and to messrs. Forster and Nayar plus mesdames Forster and Vourliotis for their help as well as the much-appreciated family and friend support which we will need in our next game this Saturday against Leeds at 1:00pm.