GB Maxibasketball W40+, W50+, M40+, M45+ and M50+ teams travelled to the historic city of Cartagena to compete in the Murcia Masters basketball tournament that included over 500 participants from 20 different countries with players from more than 35 different nationalities such as Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, and hosts Spain amongst others. The international tournament, known as ‘MAMBAsket’, celebrated its 6th edition last weekend, 2-4 December 2022, and was organised by the Decyde Association and the TripleDoble basketball club, with the collective support of the Sports Directorate of the Autonomous Community, the Murcia Region Tourism Institute, the Cartagena City Council and its Sports Department.
The Men’s 40+ competition featured teams from Denmark, Spain and Great Britain. GB Maxis M40+ squad were led by Head Coach, Jesse Sazant (Kent Crusaders) and assisted by Brian Deacon (Sussex Bears). Having brushed aside two Spanish teams from Alicante and Seville, GB Maxis defeated Swifts GB in the semi-final 41-28 to reach the final against the much fancied Spanish outfit R.C. Maritimo Melilla from Malaga. A highly competitive final game, which saw the lead change hands several times, the three point shooting of Malaga’s point guard proved to be decisive, as they ran the clock out and finished the game 42-34. Head Coach Jesse Sazant reflected:
“We know we have much to learn and build on, but nevertheless a positive result in reaching the final here in Murcia, and securing a silver trophy for Great Britain.”
Always a popular category, the Men’s 50+ competition was stacked with a total of fourteen teams from Belgrade (Serbia), Galway (Ireland), Hamburg (Germany), GB Maxis, London, Rochdale (UK), Elche, Granada, Madrid, Seville, and Cartagena (Spain). Flying solo on the coaching front, GB Maxis Men’s 50+ Coach Mike Martin from London, led his GB Maxis team to a silver trophy in his first outing coaching an international GB age group team. Defeating two Spanish teams in their pool games on Friday and Saturday, GB Maxis faced Hamburg in the quarter finals (winning 40-29) before lining up against Belgrade in the semi-final at the impressive Palacio de los Deportes.
Encouraged by a loud and supportive British contingent, GB defeated the Serbians by 5 points and progressed to the final against the host team from Cartagena. Despite GB charging ahead to a 7-point lead, the Spanish team caught up and went ahead by two points with less than a minute to go. GB had the chance to level up, but with the game clock running down the Spanish consolidated their lead with a further two points from the line, and GB Maxis fell by 4 points. A great all-around team performance was rewarded with a well-deserved silver trophy, generously applauded by their hosts and a standing ovation from spectators.
Given that Coach Mike Martin is half the age of the players being coached, the players were impressed (and respected) with the way he managed their collective experience, running the team at a high tempo and with quick rotation. One team member commented:
“It’s been a very long time since I played with such an unselfish and supportive team as the Over 50’s. It was a complete TEAM performance and I’d step on court and go to battle with them anytime”.
Coach Mark Poynton made his international coaching leading the GB Maxis Men 45+ team. Unfortunately, missing a few players due to injury the team were unable to emulate their 2021 trophy-winning performance this year, narrowly missing out on a semi-final place as they lost by just three points to San Basilio, Murcia.
In the women’s competition, our 40+ and 50+ teams both made it to the semi-finals of their respective competitions having faced stiff competition from a myriad of talented players from Poland, Italy Spain, Germany, Lithuania and Luxembourg, some of whom had represented their respective national teams at the European Maxibasketball Championships earlier this year in Malaga.
Coached by Southampton’s CJ Lee and assisted by David Mason (GB Maxis 45+ coach in Malaga), GB Maxis Women 40+ came through their first round games with a 1-1 win/loss ratio, but lost their semi-final game to Poland, 23-20. Unfortunately, GB Maxis Women’s 50+ team suffered a similar fate; in a pool of four teams (three of which were equally strong), they missed out on a chance to contest the gold medal game when they lost to Spanish outfit, Salliver Fuengirola, by the same scoreline as their 40+ counterparts. W50+ coaches Anita Curtis and Jimmy Smith commended the defensive effort by their players, but acknowledged that different offensive options would be advantageous going forward.
GB Maxibasketball teams were supported logistically by a great volunteer team organising transport before, managing squads on and off the court, including injury management/prevention. So our thanks go to: Connor Flynn (Physio), Grace Jacca, Louisa Smalley and Paul Openshaw (Team Managers).
Our GB Maxibasketball teams in Murcia were:
M40+: Acho Anyigbo, Andy Thrower, Darryl Gheerawo, Gary Collins, Lee Clark, Mark Denchfield, Robin Hall, Sam Richardson, Scott Russell, Simon Emmerson, Steve Foster, Uche Ofili. Coaches: Jesse Sazant & Brian Deacon
M45+: Anthony Mannall, Aron Townsend, Emerson Westerby-Sissons, Jeff Wadey, Lee Phillips (SCO), Michael Barry (SCO), Neil Baker, Paul Jessop, Tunde Okunniwa. Coach: Mark Poynton
M50+: Alex Winter, Calvin Tarlton, Chris Mark, Dave Mann, Donald Sampley (SCO), Keith Kelly (ex-Wales), Keith Pringle, Mark Bradbury, Mike Embaye, Nigel Fisher, Phil Pearce, Steve Milham. Coach: Mike Martin
W40+: Brigitte Castillion, Christie Perucha-Rourke, Dawn Hall, Emma Parslow, Fiona Findlay, Ilze Holsteina, Jasmyn Ross, Michelle Tattershall, Ruth Eytle, Vilma Jurgaityte. Coaches: CJ Lee and David Mason
W50+: Ali Strong, Ann Zammit, Anta Riekstina, Emma Seria-Walker, Iwona Rentflejsz, Lisa Sharman, Olivia Maury, Sadie Mason, Shirley Campbell (SCO), Shirley White (SCO). Coaches: Anita Curtis and Jimmy ‘Jumpshot’ Smith
As well as providing robust and enjoyable international competition, the Murcia International Masters Tournament plays a key role in the selection process for the players and coaches that will represent Great Britain at next year’s FIMBA World Maxibasketball Championships, in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and in smaller European tournaments in 2023. The final selection camps will take place in January 2023, but look out for our coaching appointments before the end of the year.