GB MAXIBASKETBALLERS STRIKE GOLD & SILVER AT THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 2022 IN MALAGA
What a fantastic 10 days for the GB Maxibasketball national teams programme at the XI FIMBA EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP MALAGA 2022. Recognised in January 2021 as part of the Basketball England talent pathway to GB representation, our eight teams began preparing for the Europeans in April 2021 following easing of the Covid pandemic restrictions in the UK. The hard work certainly paid dividends with five of the eight teams securing Championship medals, including Britain’s first ever gold and silver European maxibasketball medals.
Coach Steve Butler’s GB Womens’ 35+ Maxiballers led the medal charge from start to finish. With six wins from six games, they defeated Estonia (64-44) in the final game to claim the GOLD medal and the European Maxibasketball Championship 2022 crown last weekend in Malaga. There were remarkable performances from GB Maxis 35+ co-captains Sarah Cooney (20pts) and NBL Div 2 Play-off MVP Lisa Riches (14pts). WBBL All-Star Five Sheffield Hatter Helen Naylor put in a strong performance with 11pts. Speaking of his experience in Malaga, Coach Butler of Tees Valley Mohawks said:
“Words can’t describe how I feel right now. My team was amazing and put on a show the whole tournament and brought the gold back to the UK. The first Gold ever.. how mad is that? I’m just on a massive high right now and would like to thank everyone who watched and supported me and the players throughout the tournament.”
Meanwhile the GB Maxis Men’s 35+ team, led by Loughborough-based Head Coach Liam Jefferson, took on top-seeded Spanish ACB outfit Unicaja Malaga in the gold medal game. Working against an aggressive defense, Sam Toluwase led the scoring with 22 points despite picking up two early Q1 fouls, whilst Walid Mumuni (7pts) and Tom Adorian (6pts) added a further 13 points between them. However, despite a brave effort GB Maxis M35’s came up short and finished runners up, bringing home GB’s first European ChampionshIp SILVER medal! Speaking of the final game loss, Coach Jefferson said:
“ Whilst it stings right now, a European silver medal is an unbelievable achievement and I couldn’t be prouder of this group and what they have achieved!”
For anyone new to maxibasketball, Championship medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron) are awarded to teams reaching the final four stages of each competition. After three emotionally exhausting semi-final games on Day 8, the GB Maxis’ Men’s 40+, Women’s 45+ and 50+ teams had to pick themselves up to compete in bronze medal games. However, they eventually fell to sustainably stronger opposition from Spain (M40+ & W45+) and Germany (W50+) on Day 9 of the competition, and all three teams earned 4th place Championship Iron medals in recognition of some high quality performances against European powerhouse nations such as Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Spain over the course of the Championship.
Putting to one side their bronze medal game loss, GB Maxibasketball Men’s 40+ Head Coach and overall men’s programme lead, Jesse Sazant, said:
“The last 10 days have far exceeded my hopes when we started 18 months ago…I’ve enjoyed the coaching challenge of getting the best out of masters players, physically, mentally, technically and tactically. [During Covid lockdown], I’ve learnt how much the programme has meant to lots of the players – for their mental and physical health, and their outlook on life – and I look forward to the next steps.”
Notably, six individual GB Maxis players featured in the tournament’s top ten leading scorers list for their age category:
- Helen Naylor (F35+) ex-international & current WBBL – second with 18.3 PPG
- Sam Toluwase (M35+) ex-Nigerian international – second with 18 PPG
- Katie Crowley, ex-international and Sheffield Hatters (F40+) – fifth with 14 PPG
- Douaine Anderson (M40+) – sixth placed with 14.2 PPG
- Justine Allpress (F45+) ex-international – sixth placed with 11 PPG
- Anta Riekstina (F50+) – sixth 14.6PPG
In summary, eight GB Maxibasketball teams took part in the Championships (Male and female 35+, 40+, 45+ and 50+), and achieved:
- 5 Championship Medals
- 6 top six final placings
- 7 top 10 final placings
GB Maxis Programme Director, Sadie Mason MBE and Training Camp Coordinator, Emma Parslow, said:
“We couldn’t be prouder of everyone’s efforts. We can truly see the fruits of months of planning and preparation, and we are really pleased for (and appreciate) the programme leads, coaches, managers and sports science staff that have helped us achieve these fabulous European Championship performances. We set out to achieve top six placings in Europe and 6/8 teams achieved this.”
The GB Maxibasketball programme is now looking ahead to the FIMBA World Championship 2023. The host nation is yet to be announced, but Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the 2022/23 programme are already open for male and female players 35+, 40+, 45+, 50+, 55+, 60+, 65+ to Coaches, Team Managers and Performance Support Staff are also welcome to apply. The link to the EOI form for all new and returning participants is here.
Camps start in August – check the GB Maxibasketball website events page for further details. #roadtoworlds2023 #gbmaxis