Month: September 2018

Magic sign Richard Bell and Loick Pouale 2018-19

Magic add Pouale and Bell as Davenport is released

The Manchester Magic have announced the signing of form junior Loick Pouale and the return of Richard Bell.

Pouale returns to the Magic after spells at Lancashire Spinners and Leeds Force. He averaged 16.8 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game and 2.3 assists per game in 21 games for the Spinners in a difficult season in NBL Division One for the Bury based side, who having been relegated hit difficulties and have withdrawn the team from the league this season.

Bell has already suited up for the Magic this season, playing a key role in the National Trophy game against Team Newcastle, the club are delighted to retain his services for the 2018-19 season. In 10 games for the Magic last season Bell averaged 10.8 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game and 1.3 blocks per game.

Magic Head Coach Aurimas Verbukas commented, “I am very happy with signings of Loick and Richard. It is great to see Loick returning after a few years away from his home team and Richard joining us again and will provide much needed size and inside presence.”

The Magic also announced that Joshua Davenport has returned home to the States after an assessment by medical staff showed the extent of a knee injury meant he would be unable to participate for a large part of the season, the player and club agreed it best that he return home to continue his rehabilitation.

Coach Verbukas said, “It is disappointing to see Joshua going as I believed he could be one of the best players in this league. But it is more important he recovers from his injury and that he will be healthy for years to come.”

Magic Pre-season round-up

Magic pre-season round-up

Manchester Magic Senior men’s pre-season schedule is complete. On the surface, a 0-4 record doesn’t read well. Let’s take a closer look at what positives there have been and what lessons can be learned heading into the first game of the season on Saturday, where the Magic take on Team Newcastle in the National Trophy at the Manchester Basketball Centre at 6:30pm.

Magic’s opening game was against USA Select, a 63-69 loss. The home side were missing their imports who at the time were awaiting their VISAs. The Magic were also without Ali Sbai who has missed all the pre-season games through injury.

The Magic line-up against the USA Select included four 16 year olds in Luke Gordos, Jason Ani, Daniel Gargan and Noah Tchifounga, combined they played 46 of the 200 minutes available (23% of the total team’s minutes, or nearly a quarter of basketball, 50 minutes).

Kaphel Ulett-Waul led the way with 21 points, scoring 4 from 6 three pointers. Kayin Darbey has 12 points, scoring 6 from 9 from the field. Josh Houghton had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Luke Gordos had 8 points and was voted by fans on twitter as the team’s MVP.

An area of concern would be the team’s three-point percentage of 25.7% making 9 from 35 attempts, perhaps this can be put down to shaking off the rust. The team were out rebounded 51 to 39. The Magic had 5 shot attempts blocked. The turnover count was 18 for the Magic to 21 for the visitors.

Next the Magic faced a trip to Liverpool, where they lost a close game 97-93 to the Division two side, who turned down the opportunity to play in Division one after Team Northumbria withdrew from the league. That place was afforded to Essex Leopards as the next highest ranked team in Division two from last season.

Both of Magic’s Americans, Jonathan Barnes and Joshua Davenport, arrived in the days prior to the game. Barnes played and showed glimpses of what he will bring to the team. Davenport’s impact was restricted by an injured quad restricting his movement, playing limited minutes before sitting out the remainder of the contest and didn’t get a real opportunity to show what he can do; his sat out both games of the battle of Manchester.

The game saw Magic play three 16 year olds, debuts for Malachi Boakye-Yiadom, who joined the club over the summer from London Thunder and Saul May, who was a team mate of Malachi’s for Great Britain at the U16 European Championships this summer, while Luke Gordos played his second senior game.

The very next day saw the battle of Manchester game one with the Magic against what looks like a much-improved Giants side in their previous pre-season games. The Giants had five former Magic players on their roster, James Jones, Callum Jones, Ryan Lewis, Adam Oldham and Bailey Goodall.

The Magic stayed in the contest until late on the game where the Giants open up an unassailable lead, the game ended 86-60 to the Giants.

The Magic were led by Kaphel Ulett-Waul who scored 14 points, Daniel Pilkington had 13 points, Andre Gayle had 9 points, Jonathan Barnes and Saul May both had 6 points, Richard Bell had 5 points, Kayin Darbey 3 points, Josh Houghton who picked up a knock during the game had 2 points and Malachi Boakye-Yiadom had 2 points.

Game two at the Manchester Basketball Centre was another close contest throughout the first three and a bit quarters with the Giants opening up another sizeable lead in the latter stages to take a 97-80 victory and win the battle of Manchester series 2-0.

Magic were led again by Kaphel Ulett-Waul who had 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Andre Gayle had 12 points, 7 rebounds an assist and 2 steals. Josh Houghton had 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Richard Bell had 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Daniel Pilkington has 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Jonathan Barnes has 8 points, 6 rebounds, an assist and a block. Malachi Boakw-Yiadom had 6 points and an assist and Luke Gordos had 4 points, 4 rebounds and an assist.

Both games served as a stellar test for the Magic team, flagging up a couple of areas for improvement, as the Magic were out rebounded 47 to 43, committed four more turnover 20 to 16 and were blocked 8 times to blocking on one Giants’ shot.

A pleasing stat for the coaches will be points off the bench, 32 to 22 in Magic’s favour, showing strength in depth especially considering the four 16 years olds on the bench for the game (Luke Gordos, Saul May, Malachi Boakye-Yiadom and Daniel Gargan). Another pleasing stat for the coaches will be the scoring runs, the Giants biggest scoring run was 8 points, the Magic’s was 7 points.

Coach Verbukas will make a decision on the 16 year olds involved as to whether they have shown enough promise to earn a spot on the roster for the NBL season ahead. Their availability will depend on what is deemed best for the development, as they will play for the Magic’s under 18 side this season alongside the senior team duties.

It’s been a tough start for Coach Verbukas’ side, playing in four games that provided stern tests for a Magic team full of new faces getting to know each other. It will take some time for the team to gel and with the first National Trophy game on Saturday they haven’t got long to find a winning formula to start the competitive campaign off with that desired victory.

Pilkington named Magic captain, Houghton vice-captain

Pilkington named captain, Houghton vice-captain

Manchester Magic Head Coach Aurimas Verbukas has named Daniel Pilkington as team captain and Josh Houghton as vice-captain for the 2018-19 NBL Division One season.

Daniel is delighted to be named as captain of the club’s senior team having developed his game as a junior at the club as he explains, “It’s great to be named captain of the club I developed in for many years, and do it alongside a good mate is an added bonus too.

“I speak to coach a lot about practice, games and where we are looking to take the team, and every time we speak he’s so passionate and driven, and that shows in games too. Coach Ollie is great for the club and great for us as a team. 

“We are a brand new team, but from the older lads (Josh, Kaphel and I) all the way down to the 16 year olds, there is a real buzz in the club. 

“I’m excited to see what we can do this season, we are young and hungry and that’s perfect for me as one of the leaders of the team, I’ll be trying to lead by example and use my voice as much as possible. 

“With Josh, he truly has one of the highest basketball IQs I’ve played with, he’s been that way since we were 15, so to have that leadership as well I’m hoping we make a good partnership going forward and be able to lead the team as best we can.” 

Coach Verbukas has been impressed with the leadership qualities the pair have brought to the team so far in practice and in the pre-season games, he commented, “Daniel is a player that’s able to make big plays on the court and lead by example in the dressing room.

“We have a player that is going to be able to be tough enough to stick with the team when times get tough. Daniel is a great character and player who will lead this team on and off the court.

“I think everyone at the club is excited and supporting this team 100%, Daniel is a good role model for our younger players. He and Co-Captain Joshua Houghton are the kind of leaders that young players should look up to.”

Let’s find out a little more about new team captain Daniel Pilkington, we sat down with him for a Q&A

Who is your favourite sports person? 

LeBron James & Conor McGregor

What are three reasons you like being part of sports? 

1) The challenges/opportunities

2) Stay fit and health

3) I love competition

What is the best part about competing?

Winning, I especially like winning when I hear people say we have no chance. 

What is your favourite sports quote?

“I don’t complain about playing time… MY JOB is to play so well that the coach can’t sit me”

What emotions do you feel when you play well?

Regardless of personal performance, if the team wins, I’m happy. I can’t celebrate a good personal performance if we get beat.

What is your favourite song to listen to prior to competing?

Recently my go to song is Kygo – Cut Your Teeth… but before that I’d listen to Trivium – In Waves

What is your favourite movie about sports?

Space Jam

Who was your favourite coach and why?

Graham [Williams] and Joe [Forber] my Magic Youth Coaches because they were the ones who made me believe in my potential and exposed it, without them I wouldn’t be playing today. 

Do you think attitude is a factor in winning?

100%, even if there is one bad attitude in a locker room, that can massively bring others down. 

What one word describes you?


Magic and Mystics former players update 2018

Magic and Mystics former players update

Each season players join and players move on to pastures new, we like to keep track of our former players’ careers. Some will go on to play at a higher level, while others take a route outside of basketball. Some move to rival clubs to continue their development, while others move to the States or play professionally for the next stage of their careers.

Below is a list of players who have moved on from the club and where they are now, broken down into four sections, Academy (Under 19s), University, Professional (including semi-pro) and Free-Agents/Unknowns.

Academy (Under 19s)

Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo has joined Reading Rockets Academy

Rebecca Harwood-Bellis has joined Ipswich

Sanmi Fajana and George Radford have joined Myerscough College

Ben Gordos starts second year at Myerscough College

Ashana Hinds starts second year at City of London Academy

Niamh Kelshaw and Lucy Threlfall both start their second year at Charnwood College

Khia Lee starts second year at Oaklands College

Wesley Oba has joined Sunlive Basketball Academy in Portugal

Greg Wild has joined Charnwood College


Michael Anumba is a freshman at Winthrop University (NCAA D1 Big South)

Gina Brierley is a junior at Saint Leo University (NCAA D2 Sunshine State Conference)

Kaiyem Cleary is a freshman at Florida Southern Florida Southern University (NCAA D2 – Sunshine State Conference)

Fiona Connolly is attending Loughborough University

Jessica Eadsfoth-Yates has transferred from Cochise College (NJCAA – ACCAC) to Georgia Highlands College (NJCAA – GCAA) for her sophomore year

Pharroh Gordon is a senior at William Jewell College (NCAA D2 GLVC)

Freya Kelshaw moves from Myerscough College to attend Loughborough Univeristy

Aaron Menzies has transferred from Seattle University (NCAA D1 Western Athletic Conference) to Saint Mary’s College of California (NCAA D1 West Coast Conference) for his senior year

Ayo Nuwe is a sophomore at Casper College (NCJAA D1)

Tamas Okros is a senior at Post University (NCAA D2 CACC)

Harriet Swindells is a sophomore at Barry University (NCAA D2 Sunshine State Conference)


Dominique Allen has joined Sepsi SIC in Romania

Simon Anumba has joined Fiat Torino (Serie A) in Italy from Treofan Battipaglia (Italy Serie B)

Devan Bailey has joined Marmande in France’s 4th tier from Cheshire Phoenix

Mollie Campbell remains at Leicester Riders

Nicolette FongLyewQuee has joined Baxi Ferrol in Spain from Durham Palatinates

Franc Garcia Garrido plays for Maristes Ademar in Spain

Orlan Jackman has joined London City Royals from Cheshire Phoenix

Callum Jones remains at Manchester Giants

James Jones has returned from coaching in Canada to join the Manchester Giants

Duane Morgan has joined Electro Mercantil Plasencia (LEB Silver, Spain) from Zornotza (EBA Spain)

Connor Murtagh has joined Sambendettese Basket in Italy’s 4th tier

Kingsley Nwagboso has joined BIS Basket Speyer in Germany from Francis Marion University

Adam Oldham and Bailey Goodall have joined the Manchester Giants

Tayo Oyefusi remains at Team Solent Kestrels

Conor Porter has joined Manchester Giants

Hasan Ramic is currently training with the Magic Division one team

Tyme Regent-Bascombe has joined Liverpool

Andy Thomson remains at Leicester Riders

Jordan Whelan has joined Worcester Wolves from Manchester Giants

Patrick Whelan has joined Real Murcia (LEB Plata, Spain) after finishing his senior year at William Jewell College (NCAA D2 GLVC)

David Watts remains at Nottingham Hoods

Georgia Jones, Rheanne Bailey and Sam Roscoe remain at Manchester Mystics (confirmed, awaiting news on the rest of the roster)

Free Agents/Unknowns

Jack Crook, Aaron Geramipoor, Leah McDerment, Menelik Watson (NFL Free-Agent), Loick Pouale, Donte Gittens, Hamad Ali, Stefan Gill, Ryan Lewis, Richard Bell, Yannick Onifade, Nathan Schall (was at Team Solent Kestrels), Tom Devitt (was at Team Northumbria), Ed Potter (was at Reading Rockets), Lee Goldsbrough.

Have we missed someone off this list? Spot a mistake? Let us know here

Mystics WBBL Sam Roscoe returns 2018

Roscoe returns for Mystics for 2018-19 WBBL season

Manchester Mystics have confirmed Samantha Roscoe is back on board for the forthcoming 2018-19 WBBL campaign and that is music to the ears of the club’s Head Coach, Jeff Jones.

Having already secured the services of another two leaders in Georgia Jones and Rheanne Bailey earlier this week, the play-caller is thrilled to have another cornerstone of last year’s side on his roster.

He stated: “We are really pleased to have Sam returning and I am sure the experience she gained last season will help her be even better prepared for this season. With her studying for a masters at MMU, it is a great opportunity for her.

“Sam joining Rheanne and Georgia, along with the other core players from last year, gives us a good base to build from. We will be announcing a few more players in the coming days, which hopefully gives us a bit more depth then last year,” added Jones.

Roscoe averaged almost 10 points and 6 boards per game in the WBBL Championship last season and has recently completed a spell in Australia with Lakeside Lightning.

Source: WBBL

Roberts brothers FIBA licence 2018

Roberts brothers earn FIBA statisticians licence

The club’s long-time statisticians, Matt and Graeme Roberts, have recently become FIBA licensed statisticians, enabling them for selection to do international and European games as well as domestic (W)BBL finals for the next two years.

The pair attended the UK’s FIBA Statisticians Workshop in Leicester this weekend, having completed the FIBA e-learning material and exam. The workshop involved covering the updated statistic interpretations and a final exam, which they both passed.

The brothers have previous international experience prior to the introduction of the FIBA Statisticians License two years ago, including at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They have covered a number of Great Britain home games over the years prior to the introduction of FIBA Licenses in 2016.

Matt commented about gaining the FIBA License: “Having personally been involved in the fight for many years for the introduction of a statisticians’ qualification, it was disappointing two years ago to have miss out on doing the FIBA stats License when it was introduced due to work commitments.

This is the first opportunity since then for us both to gain the FIBA License, so I’m pleased to finally get the opportunity and to pass the course and to be available for selection to do internationals again.”

Graeme commented on gaining the FIBA License, “I’m delighted to have achieved my FIBA stats qualification to allow me to work on international games for the next two years. The workshop in Leicester was intensive and engaging, covering the rules and interpretations across the range of statistical categories. Recording statistics requires considerable skill and concentration, as well as thorough knowledge of the game of basketball, so the testing process was rigorous and included two exams.”

They were both keen to stress that the group of statisticians across the country are working hard on improving the quality of data they produce to give players, coaches, the media and general public an accurate reflection of the game.

Graeme commented, “The growing group of statisticians across the country shows that basketball statistics are moving in the right direction in the UK under the tireless leadership of Sarah Booth. Around 15 statisticians from around the country attended the FIBA sessions and we’re very proud to be part of this elite core group.”

Matt added, “Having pushed for standards to be improved for many years it is great to see that statistics in the UK is heading in the right direction. Sarah [Booth] has led the way, in making the (W)BBL now one of the most accurately recorded leagues in Europe.

“We have a group of statistician who review two randomly selected games a week, myself included in that group. We go through every play to ensure it was recorded corrected and statisticians are then given feedback on their performance.

“Myself and Graeme were awarded the ‘Stats Superemos’ award at conference for having the highest accuracy average of 99%, with the league average now into the 90s, which is up there with the majority of European leagues, so that is something the group can be proud. The group are determined to keep working hard and to support each other to improve that average to be the best we can be as a group.

“We also were awarded the Eagle-eyed Spotters award for making the fewest mistaken identity errors, which is something that we both work on, so we are very pleased for us both to be recognised for that effort.”

The brothers are happy to be available for internationals once again, as Graeme explained, “It is particularly pleasing to have achieved an official licence six years after working on the London 2012 Olympic Games, which was the highlight of our careers as statisticians.

“Since then we have continued to serve our club in Manchester to the best of our capacity and have occasionally had the privilege of working on Great Britain games. With the new licences we hope to be able to work on more international games over the next two years.”

Matt added, “Although nothing will ever top the experience of working at the Olympics in London in 2012, it is always an honour to do international games. With the pool of FIBA licensed statisticians there is no guarantee that you’ll get selected for games, but with the new FIBA competition qualifying format it has increased the opportunities to work on Great Britain games on home soil.”

Magic's Luke Gordos MVP debut 2018-19

16 year old Gordos put in MVP performance on senior debut

Manchester Magic Junior Luke Gordos was voted game MVP by the fans on twitter after impressing during pre-season friendly against USA Select on Tuesday evening at the Manchester Basketball Centre.

The 16 year old joined the senior team practises this off-season off the back of an impressive display for Wales U16s at the FIBA Division C European Championships this summer. Gordos lead Wales all the way to the final, where they came undone by Andorra to finish with the silver medal.

We spoke to Luke about his performance against USA Select and to get his thoughts on joining up with the senior team, here’s what he had to say.

Luke, Congratulations for being voted the first MVP of the season. What are your thoughts about the game?

“It was tough to lose such a close game to USA Select. They are a tough team with [NCAA] Division One players and athletes so it is very good preparations for the season.

“Although we lost, I think our team played with heart and intensity and we are looking a lot better than we were at the start of the off season.

“We had some very good contributions from players like Kaphel [Ulett-Waul] and Kayin [Darbey] and I think this team has a lot of potential for the upcoming season and we are only getting stronger.”

You have just turned 16 years old, how are you finding it playing/training with/against senior players who are much bigger and stronger?

“To practice and play for the Division One Men is an honour, and I think the other juniors would say the same.

“It has been tough at times but I am now gaining more confidence in practises and games and I know in the long term it is very beneficial for my development.”

How will that help your development?

“I think that playing for the Division One Men is very beneficial towards my development.

“It is helping me learn the game from the seniors and I love getting as much information as possible from them.

“It is helping me learn the style of play, when to do things and when not to do things which will only speed up my development as it is a much more physically demanding and mentally demanding game of basketball.”

Coach Ollie (Aurimas Verbukas) commented, “Luke is a great character and hard working young men. His work ethic is something that all should use as an example.

“There is a lot of room for improvement, but he is moving in the right direction.

“He is pure point guard with a pass-first mentality, he has great potential to become a very good player if he continues to improve and learn from his older and more experienced team-mates.”

The Magic continue their pre-season preparations with two away games this weekend with a trip to Division two side, Liverpool on Saturday (at 5:30pm) and part one of the battle of Manchester as the Magic face the Giants at the Trafford PowerLeague Arena on Sunday (at 5:00pm).

And don’t forget the Magic face the Giants at home on Tuesday 18th September at 8:00pm for part two of the battle of Manchester.

Rheanne Bailey returns Mystics WBBL 2018

Bailey returns for Mystics for 2018-19 WBBL season

Manchester Mystics are returning the hugely influential Rheanne Bailey for a third consecutive season and the versatile star is ready to go to work in an increasingly competitive Women’s British Basketball League.

Coming hot on the heels of her fellow leader Georgia Jones signing on for another campaign with the club, Bailey has expressed her delight at the challenge which lies in wait – as the level of the WBBL continues on an upward trajectory.

She stated: “The league gets stronger each year and as a player, it’s exciting seeing more and more big signings and to be a part of it. I’m looking forward to this season.

“Last season we were disappointed not to make the top four, but always knew it would be tough as we were lacking depth.

“This season we are all excited to see how we can build upon what we have achieved in our previous two seasons.

“Every opportunity to step on the floor and play basketball is something I’m grateful for and I’m just privileged to be invited back to share another season with the Mystics,” concluded Bailey, who has also previously represented Leicester Riders in the league.

Mystics are also close to announcing a third major returnee – meaning they will have valuable continuity across the spine of the team as they continue preparations for the new season.

Source: WBBL

Mystics' Georgia Jones returns 2018-19

Jones returns for Mystics for 2018-19 WBBL season

Manchester Mystics’ star guard Georgia Jones has been confirmed as the club’s first addition to their 2018-19 roster, with the Great Britain playmaker intrigued by what lies ahead.

Preparing to embark on what will be her third campaign with her hometown side, having also played previously at Leicester Riders, Jones is looking forward to seeing how things will pan out once the curtain is raised.

She explained: “I think we struggled towards the end of last season, mainly due to lack of depth and we were disappointed not to finish in the Top 4.

“But, we have a core group returning which will hopefully allow us to build on what we learned and that will help us to improve this year.

“With a lot of new faces being announced and a few veterans moving to new clubs, it is hard to say what to expect from each team in the WBBL this year,” added Jones, who made the 2017-18 Molten WBBL All-British Team of the Year.

“But, I am sure it will make for an exciting year and I am just grateful for another season and ready to get started.!”

Jones will also be looking forward to potentially helping Great Britain to punch a ticket to the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2019 in this autumn’s final qualification window during November.

Further player announcements will be made by Mystics in the coming days.

Source: WBBL

Magic and Mystic U15 North West 2018

Large Magic and Mystics presence in North West U15 squads for regionals – results added

There will be a large Magic and Mystics presence at this weekend’s Regional Development Tournament at the National Basketball Performance Centre.

Magic’s Luke Bower, Benjamin Brown, Zeki Cavli, Mandre Costa, Alexandre Da Costa, Ali Gohari, Ceejay Hanson, Bradley May, Amari Stewart-Rhoomes and Daniel Tejada have been selected in the North West U15 Boys squad while Mystics’ Bethan McLoughlin, Charli Wroe, Ellie Hatton, Kizzy Spence, Lauren Addy, Lily Gilronan and Mia Donegan have been selected in the North West U15 Girls squad. Mystics’ Anna Nevison is in the Yorkshire U15 Girls squad.

Club coaches Aurimas Verkubas (Boys Head Coach), Gary Williams (Boys Assistant Coach), Tom Stansfield (Girls Head Coach) and Barney Blake (Girls Assistant Coach) will lead the U15 North West squads into battle.

North West Boys are in Group A and North West Girls are in Group Y.


Saturday 8th September

10:00 London W – L North West Boys

11:00 East W – L North West Girls

12:00 South W – L North West Boys

13:00 South W – L North West Girls (OT)

15:00 North West Girls L – W South West

16:00 Yorkshire W – L North West Boys

18:00 North West W – L South West Boys

Sunday 9th September

Classification games

9:00 Boys North West Boys W – L West Midlands Classification games

10:00 Yorkshire W – L North West Girls Classification games

11:00 North West Boys W – L East Midlands Classification games

12:00 East Midlands L – W North West Girls Classification games

13:30 North West Boys W – L North East Classification games

North West Boys finished 5th, Girls finished 6th.

Mystics’ Anna Nevison won the British Shooting Tests Final for Yorkshire (Image Credits: Kieron Nevison).

Anna Nevison
Anna Nevison shoout out winner