Month: January 2018

Manchester Mystics

Coach Jim plays guess the player in his latest Mystics U14 report

I’ve gone for a slightly different approach for this week’s report on Mystics U14 at Tameside Royals. Instead of labelling players by name, I’m using letters. This means that instead of doing housework, DIY or gardening, you can spend your valuable leisure time matching the letter to a player. If this goes well, I’ll probably branch out into doing party games!

Several Mystics arrived carrying niggles as well as their bags but such is their commitment that each one was resolved to play their part for their team. Player A is experiencing dental problems but she ignored those to open the scoring and be a part of a near faultless team effort in the first quarter. B is hampered (not the Christmas variety) with more deformed fingers than a crushed box of Cadbury’s biscuits. Even so, she rebounded like a demon at every opportunity. C also turned up with dodgy digits yet played the game of her life in the first half, drawing gasps from the crowd with her athleticism.

D has to monitor herself constantly but once again put this aside to give her all and show what a good passer she is. E has been unwell for longer than I can remember (which could be as little as 5 minutes ago) but you would never know it by watching her play. She made a nuisance of herself- in a good way – at both ends of the court and is almost back to her best. F has a poorly back but did not let that stop her doing all she could to make a positive contribution. Her attitude is exemplary.

G gave us her usual assistance thanks to her thoughtful posting up and ability to go right or left. H again played with a maturity way beyond her years and shot more accurately than Wyatt Earp. I (not me, the letter) had to work hard to counter the aggressive double team thrown at her. Almost inevitably, her undoubted class and ability ensured that she did so to devastating effect.

J has more energy than a pack of Duracell batteries and today she showed her ex-team mates what they are missing with an excellent all-round performance. K once more proved what an intelligent player she is. (That narrows it down!) Her decision making, passing and defensive rebounding were as good as ever. Our team is blessed with more than our fair share of talented individuals who can turn a game on its head. Suffice to say that L did so in this encounter with an incredible display.

So what did all this add up to? Tameside’s best moment in the first quarter came very early when they equalised at 2-2. The next 9 minutes for them was like my house when I took the last apple and orange out with me to come to the game – fruitless! Our team played at a level that bordered on faultless and some of the passing had to be seen to be believed. It resulted in a 23-2 lead after 10 minutes. Our dominance extended into the second quarter so that by half-time we led 49-12.

With 12 Mystics to try to cater for (which sounds like a large dinner party), I used more subs than our enemies did in World War 2 for the rest of the game. Consequently, we understandably lost much of our fluency during the third period and Tameside did well to take advantage, showing commendable resilience to only lose the quarter 16-15. I stayed with my revolving door policy in the fourth. It could have resulted in a repeat of our players not knowing whether they were coming or going but to their credit, our less experienced members equipped themselves admirably to win the final quarter 18-8.

Thanks to James, Sam and Carys for all they do and thanks also to our wonderful band of supporters who are always there for us.


Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 came out on top of scintillating encounter with City of Leeds Gold

Sometimes stating the obvious makes the person who stated it easy to ridicule. For example, when a Dutch former manager of Manchester United made the deeply profound comment that whoever scores the most goals wins the game, most people who heard him must have wondered why no one else had ever thought of it. (As well as thinking he was speaking double Dutch!) On other occasions, hopefully, stating the obvious can emphasise a valid point. Here goes. Basketball is a team game. I say this, not to distinguish it from badminton but because the concept of team is a major reason why Mystics U14 I came out on top of the scintillating encounter with a powerful City of Leeds Gold at the tastefully named Carnegie Arena last Saturday.

Leeds have several very skilful individuals, plenty of fleet-footed players and bags of scoring potential. This enabled them to score 62 points against us. Mystics also have several very skilful players but also have mental toughness, a willingness to share the ball and look for the simplest thing to get the job done as well as a commendable team spirit. This enabled us to score 80 points against them. Here endeth the lesson!

There were, of course, highlights – the outstanding defensive contributions of Olivia Forster and Kizzy Spence, the rebounding of Eleni Vourliotis and Esha Nayar, Charli Wroe’s eye-catching, tireless display, Nia Molloy’s shooting, the offensive movement of Emily Wood and the passing of Lily Hayes. That said, this was essentially a victory achieved thanks to positive input from all 11 available team members so well done, also, to Jo Vourliotis, Daisy Bryan and Zara Masadeh-Tate for playing their part in helping us to a thoroughly deserved victory against tough opponents. An honourable mention should also go to our 12th player, Lia Vourliotis who crossed the border into foreign territory (Yorkshire!) despite injury to be part of her team.

Many thanks to my assistant coach James, to team managers, Sam and Carys and to all parents/relatives/fan club members for you terrific support. Tameside Royals next!


Loreto 3x3 2018

Loreto Magic claim third in EABL 3×3 Finals

Loreto Magic claimed an impressive third spot at the EABL 3×3 National Finals in Leicester on Wednesday.

The squad of Michael Anumba, Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo, Wesley Oba and Hassan Ramic opened with a 14-12 win over Pool B rivals Copleston before slipping to a 21-17 defeat to Oaklands.

Loreto EABL 3x3 2018

Their record was still good enough to book them a place in the semi-finals, where they came up against a Charnwood College Riders outfit featuring Sesan Russell, voted MVP at the recent Haris Charalambous Memorial Basketball Tournament.

Loreto were beaten 21-10 by the tournament hosts, who went on to claim the title with a 19-14 victory over Myerscough College.

Loreto, who qualified for the six-team showpiece by finishing second in their regional event, then claimed an impressive 21-9 victory over Oaklands in the battle for third.

EABL WEABL 3x3 2018
Richard Bell

Magic land power forward Bell after Giants release

Manchester Magic have signed British power forward Richard Bell following his release by BBL side Manchester Giants.

The 6ft 9in player, 26, joins a Magic squad that is already through to the final of the National Cup later this month as well as the National Trophy semi-finals.

“We have been looking to add some extra size in the squad for some time and Richard just seems like the perfect fit for us,” said Magic head coach Paul Middleton.

“He is a real inside presence and extremely versatile on the perimeter. He poses an outside threat that will make him a difficult match-up for opponents.”

Bell, who played NCAA Division 1 basketball for Nevada University, is currently studying a Masters degree at Manchester Metropolitan University, a key partner of the Magic.

“I’m excited about joining the Magic and I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” he said.

“I know they are a great club that has enjoyed a lot of success over the years and I’m looking forward to helping that continue.”

Magic’s next outing is an away trip to NBL Division One rivals Kent Crusaders on Saturday.

Bell’s debut is likely to be the following weekend, against Hemel Storm in the final of the National Cup.

That game takes place at the University of East London on Sunday, 21 January.

Manchester Mystics

No post-Christmas blues for Mystics U14s

Having not bounced, thrown or kicked a ball (or an opponent) for 3 weeks due to annual festivities, Mystics U14 I were back in action at Stockport’s Ball Hall last Saturday. With all 12 Mystics ready, willing and able, my biggest headache wasn’t caused by a hangover but how to give each of them the court time their thoroughly positive attitudes deserve. More by luck than judgement, all 12 had sufficient minutes to show their worth.

Indeed, 5 of them – Kizzy Spence, Olivia Forster, Lily Hayes, Charli Wroe and Emily Wood – excelled offensively to score in double figures while 3 – Esha Nayar, Eleni Vourliotis and Zara Masadeh-Tate – gave us valuable rebounding strength to compliment the usual enthusiasm and boundless energy we have come to rely upon from Nia Molloy, Lia and Jo Vourliotis and Daisy Bryan. Their contributions were particularly effective in our attempts to curb Stockport’s lively offense.

As is often the case following a lengthy lay up, sorry, lay off (plus too much chocolate), we took longer than normal to find our cutting edge. Offensively, in the initial stages, we failed to do total justice to the opportunities provided by the superb passing of Lily, Charli and Olivia and we really should have ended the first quarter in a stronger position than the 18-8 we managed.

Stockport battled hard in the second period during which the 2 Lily’s (Hayes for Mystics and Gilronan for Stockport) blossomed. (No report is complete without a flower-related pun.) Our help defence remained as patchy as a Friesian cow but we still contrived to go into the half-time break 37-18 to the good with Kizzy looking sharp at both ends (which makes her sound like a very dangerous sword!) Her decision-making was also much-improved, particularly in terms of when to share the ball and when not to take on the rest of the world single-handed.

Prior to the resumption, we discussed ways of upping our defensive intensity. No sooner said than done! The girls immediately turned theory into practice, conceding just 8 points in the second half with everyone playing their part. Our finishing was also more clinical which resulted in 53 points over the 20 minutes. This was a very useful run-out for us as we prepare for an important clash at Leeds on Saturday.

Thanks to everyone for your help and support.


Basketball England

Three Mystics and two Magic juniors selected in England squads

After two successful December camps at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester, Basketball England has announced the list of players selected for further consideration for the Great Britain Under 18 and Under 16 teams.

Selected for the Under 18 squads are Manchester Magic’s Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo and Mystics’ Chloe Andrew, while Magic’s Saul May and Mystics’ Jade Mbam and Rebecca Harwood-Bellis have been selected in the Under 16 squads.

The December camps took place on 21 and 22 December for all Men’s squads, and 27 and 28 December for all Women’s squads. 131 players attended across the two camps and 77 players have now been chosen to move forward with the preparations for the FIBA European Championships in the summer of 2018.

Battle in the Capital

Magic U14s shine in London tournament

Manchester Magic’s U14 Premier team will go into 2018 with a spring in their step following an impressive showing at the Battle in the Capital 2017.

Up against seven other teams from the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands, they finished fourth thanks to some top individual and team performances.

Magic opened with a 38-27 defeat to Richmond Knights but hit back with a 26-24 OT win over Brentwood Fire at the University of East London.

They then booked their place in the semi-finals with a 37-17 success against FC Barcelona.

They faced Baltic Stars in the last four, losing 47-34, and were then beaten 46-41 by Dutch side Apollo Amsterdam in the fight for third place.

Magic coach Sergio Lara-Bercial said he was proud of his players and added that the tournament had been a great learning experience for his squad.

Baltic Star claimed victory in the final, beating Richmond Knights.

Final positions: Baltic Stars, Richmond knights, Apollo Amsterdam, Manchester Magic, Brentwood Fire, London Youngblood Lions, FC Barcelona and Sussex Storm.

Magic U14 at Battle in the Capital