Brentwood Leopards u14 Boys at Globasket ’18!
After a highly successful tour to Madrid in Summer ‘17, the Brentwood Leopards u14 boys joined us this past Easter at Globasket ‘18, one of Europe’s biggest and most exciting junior basketball tournaments held in Lloret De Mar, Spain. The tournament featured challenging games alongside enjoyable leisure activities including time on the beach and by the pool, bowling, mini golf, a trip to Barcelona city centre, NBA Cafe Europe and an incredible Euroleague contest between FC Barcelona and Khimki Moscow. With high expectations from their Madrid visit, the Leopards team, coaches and supporters departed Barcelona with a wealth of new experience and memories from an outstanding 7-day trip.
BTM representative Tom Ward met the group at Luton airport late Sunday afternoon, which consisted of Head Coaches Greg and Julie, Assistant Coach John Nash, supporters Gary and Claire and players Lennon N, Sam B, Connor, Thulani, Noah, Lennon S, Sam V, Ollie, Frank, Joe B and Joe C. The group were incredibly excited, especially tour newcomer Thulani who’s charismatic personality was on show right from the jump! Once through security the boys were given some time to grab something to eat, however Frank, Ollie and Sam B went the fashion-based route and opted to spend their pocket money on some essential Hugo Boss socks!
It was soon time for the Leopards to board the plane for the 2 hour journey to Barcelona, which went swiftly and soon landed at Barcelona airport. On the plane journey Greg and Julie shared the players’ “reports” from their past season, which they had put a tremendous amount of time and thought into on behalf of the boys. Greg and Julie are two coaches that spend a lot of time thinking not only about their players on-court development, but also about how they can help support the growth of their character off the court, which was evident throughout the trip from their productive and engaging team meetings and on-going discussions with the group.
From Barcelona airport a Globasket bus was waiting for the group and the boys joined a Norwegian girls’ team already on the bus in a sing-along to some of Justin Bieber’s greatest hits. Note: Sam V has a great singing voice! After an hour of chatter and Bieber hits, the team arrived at the hotel in the heart of Lloret de Mar and the bus driver bid a fond farewell. The coaches, supporters and players were assigned their rooms and headed upstairs to unpack and get some much needed rest before the first day of events.
The boys had a little lie-in before heading down to the buffet breakfast at the hotel, which featured an array of options including eggs, beans, sausages, cereals, fruits, muffins, yogurt, juices, tea & coffee and more! While there is always a slight risk element in leaving 11-13 year olds to their own devices and choices in a buffet, the players were smart and opted for healthy options including cereals and fruits. While many of the players chatted loudly, team captain Joe B was deep in thought about the teams’ first game of the tournament which would take place that afternoon at 4.30 pm.
After breakfast the team headed to the beach via the local shops, where the boys delighted at the various fake designer brands and humorous t-shirts. Ollie spotted a rolex watch that took his liking (reduced to 10 euros) and he spent the rest of the trip with “ice on his wrist.” The boys also snapped up a football and an American football to use at the beach. The water was incredibly chilly, however most of the boys decided to brave it and jump in, most notably Noah and Lennon S who seemed to enjoy the cool Spring temperature of the Mediterranean sea!
The group returned to the hotel for the buffet lunch and some relaxation before heading over to “Municipal,” a large stadium court 10-minutes walk from the hotel for their first game against Laguna Sharks A-team from Romania. Laguna Sharks were a large and powerful team consisting of all Year 9 players – it was going to be a tough challenge for the Leopards, who’s mix of Year 7’s and 8’s were overmatched physically by their opponents. Nonetheless the Leopards battled hard, with Connor attacking the basket and finishing a couple of spectacular left-hand shots and Joe C pushing the ball hard for fast-break opportunities. Sam B also gave a brilliant contribution with some great composure in the face of the Sharks’ defensive pressure. However the Sharks, who ended up winning the entire tournament, were relentless in their full-court press and hounded the Leopards all the way to the final buzzer, with a final score of 132-28.
That evening Coaches Greg and Julie called a team meeting, where the group discussed the positives that could be taken from a such an intense and challenging game. The discussion centered around working hard on the things each individual could control and not getting caught up in those the things they couldn’t. The always thoughtful Lennon N and supporters Claire and Gary contributed some great advice to the discussion, and the boys were praised for showing a tremendous amount of resilience in the face of adversity. They would be sure to bounce back in their second game of the tournament…
An earlier tip of 12 pm awaited the boys on the Tuesday, so they didn’t stray too far from the hotel in the morning, opting to play some outdoor table tennis and take advantage of the games room which featured a pool table, air hockey and multiple video games. The Globasket bus arrived at 10.30 am to transport the group to Massanet De La Selva, a gym where the team would face Guifoes u14 Elite from Portugal. On the way there they mingled on the bus with the opposing team, singing in unison with the Portuguese boys who blasted some of their home country’s top hits from the speakers they brought with them. Thulani was especially into it, and showed that if basketball doesn’t work out he has a promising career in traditional Portuguese music.
The Leopards looked far more confident during warm-ups then they had the previous day – this confidence seeped into the start of the game as they snatched an early 9-2 lead thanks to some tremendous full-court pressure from Joe B and Lennon S, who used his long wingspan to disrupt passes and convert at the basket. Frank showed off a variety of skills, including his tough ability to rebound the basketball at both ends despite giving up a size advantage to most opponents. However their spirited Portuguese opponents were not to be outdone and went on a run of their own, clawing their way back into the game with some excellent European-style drive and kick basketball. Guifoes’ ball movement and shooting ability ended up proving to be too much for the Leopards on this occasion, and the Portuguese side ran away with an 82-70 win. The boys were incredibly disappointed after the game, and waited solemnly for the bus to bring them back to the hotel.
Some of the players opted to go and check out fellow UK teams Oaklands u14 girls and Richmond Knights u14 and u12 boys in action at the multiple-court Pavello El Moli gym – the tournament offered an amazing opportunity to see international teams from all over the world including Mexico, Portugal, Lithuania, Romania, Belgium, Russia and more, and learn from their various styles of play. The evening was spent reflecting on the Guifoes match-up, and preparing for what would be their final group game before playoffs began on Thursday.
One of the “MVP’s” of the trip was John Nash, an u16 player who assisted Head Coaches Greg and Julie and offered the players inspiration, encouragement and advice from the sidelines. John contributed a tremendous amount of thought and passion to the team, relishing in the boys’ success and battling in their struggles. In the boys’ final group game of the tournament against powerful Lithuanian club SKM Vilnius his influence would be needed more than ever, alongside the amazing positive energy of Greg and Julie who coached with their heart on their sleeve for the entirety of the tournament.
In the morning the team headed over to an outdoor court to get some reps up before the afternoon’s match-up, but were promptly asked to finish up when a big group of elderly Spanish folk took the court to do a variety of activities. However some of the boys did manage to throw down a few big-time dunks on the low side-hoops, including a huge 2-hander from captain Joe B! The team then made the most of the amazing sunshine and sand that Lloret de Mar’s beach has to offer, as well as taking on some formidable waves that the Med was churning out on the day! The group was in very high spirits, loving their time on the beach and strengthening their bond as a team. Sam V was especially vibrant, taking in the Spanish sun and relishing the opportunity to play in the water after a long and cold winter in the UK.
That afternoon the boys had their first opportunity to play on the multiple-court Pavello El Moli, and supporters Gary and Claire lined up the boys Leopards t-shirts on the stands to match the Lithuanian flag that their opponents supporters had brought along with them. The Vilnius team had the traditional toughness and skill that is found in almost all Lithuanian teams and they worked the Leopards boys hard at both ends. Connor was again a star, as what he gave up in physical size he more than made up for in skill and determination and used his slick ball-handling ability to create driving opportunities to the basket. Joe C displayed the speed, strength, leadership and unwavering composure that makes him such an effective player, pushing the ball up the court and fighting taller players for rebounds. Nonetheless the Lithuanian team’s size and strength proved too much and they won the game 66-21.
The team grabbed a quick snack and then walked a few minutes from the hotel to the local mini-golf and bowling, where they spent the evening with huge smiles on their faces. During the mini-golf, Coach Julie managed to get herself a hole in one, much to the dismay of Frank and Coach John Nash as the shot resulted in them losing the game and having to take on a forfeit – one lap of the freezing cold swimming pool at the hotel! However in the bowling Coach Julie’s luck soon came to an end as BTM rep Tom, who was struggling massively, managed to pull out a strike with his last shot that resulted in Julie placing last and having to take on a dancing-based dare later in the week. Ollie was a star bowler, racking up over 90 points and knocking down the pins like it was his job!
At the ripe hour of 8 am, the tired Leopards boys hopped on the Globasket bus to Massanet de la Selva for their first round playoff matchup versus Laguna Sharks B-team. This Romanian group was a slightly smaller and less physical version of their championship winning A-team, but nonetheless a strong and powerful team from a fast-developing basketball nation. It was again a solid start for the Leopards boys, as Noah used his innate rebounding ability and speed to command the attack for the British team. Lennon N played with enormous spirit and passion, taking on every possession as if it was his last, and Thulani brought his amazingly relentless energy on both the court and the bench. However the tired boys began to run out of steam in the second half, which resulted in some quick buckets for the Romanian side who ran out winners 90-54. It was a valiant effort from the Brentwood boys and they were commended for focusing on the actions within their power and worrying less about the events out of their control.
After a bite to eat in the restaurant buffet, the boys got back on the Globasket bus which this time was headed for the Barcelona city centre! An intense game of “I spy” ensued, with Lennon S offering some perplexing challenges for the group. Jumping off at Plaça de Catalunya, the boys bought some impressive looking (and tasting) ice creams and began their walk towards Barcelona Cathedral and the gothic quarter of the city. It was then up the famous La Rambla boulevard to the NBA Cafe Europe, where they were greeted by NBA jerseys, a Pau Gasol bobblehead, NBA video games, several TV screens showing the previous evening’s match-ups and some delicious food and drink including burgers, chicken wings, onion rings, nachos and chocolate cake. Coach John Nash gushed about the amazing experience he’d had so far in Lloret de Mar, which was truly wonderful to hear. With their bellies and smiles full, the boys headed back to the bus which transported them to Palau Blaugrana, the famous FC Barcelona arena home to the basketball, handball, roller hockey and futsal teams.
It was an experience of a lifetime for the coaches and players, with a chance to see a Euroleague game between FC Barcelona and Khimki Moscow of Russia, featuring some of Europe’s best players including Spanish legend Juan Carlos Navarro and Russian superstar Alexey Shved. The boys were given Barcelona t-shirts and flags, which they waved from their seats which were almost courtside! In a hugely exciting game in which Barcelona knocked down 17 3-point shots, the home team ran out winners with a 86-82 scoreline. Some of the boys were incredibly focused on the minor details of the contest, especially Connor, Lennon N, Joe C and Joe B who’s eyes barely darted from the on-court action. After the game it was back on the bus which dropped the team back at the hotel at around midnight, a long but incredible day for the coaches, supporters and players.
On the penultimate day of the tournament, the Leopards’ boys game wasn’t until 1.30 pm in the afternoon, giving them an opportunity to rest and recuperate from the previous evening’s activities. The boys headed down to the beach and Coach Julie set the team up in some passing drills – Connor, Sam B and Sam V displayed superb footwork, some of which learned from their previous BTM experience in Madrid last summer. The team then took on the buffet, this time lighter than usual with some pre-game fruit and hydration ahead of their final game of the tournament.
Their game would take place at Pavello El Moli, and upon arrival the atmosphere was already buzzing with boys and girls teams from across various age groups battling it out for playoff success. The Leopards’ opponents would be Cluj Napoca, another Romanian side who’s Men’s team play in the EuroCup league. Noah looked hugely determined for the game and gave his most impressive performance of the tournament, showing off how dominant he can be when he exerts maximum effort for the entirety of the game. The Leopards played with amazing spirit, supporting each other wonderfully from the court and from the bench, led by the relentlessly positive and encouraging Head Coach Greg who never takes a play off for his team. The undersized Frank and Ollie dove on loose balls and boxed out hard for rebounds, while veterans Joe C and Joe B battled through injuries to help the team’s’ efforts. Lennon N played his best game of the tournament, which was cut short when he fell and injured his thumb during the 3rd quarter. A side depleted with injuries continued to push forward but just fell short in the closing minutes as the energetic Romanian team edged out the game 62-46. Nevertheless it was an amazing team performance from the English boys and one they could be hugely proud to look back on.
Not forgetting the results of Wednesday’s mini-golf and bowling, that evening Coach Julie took on her forfeit in the hotel bar as she asked a delighted elderly Spanish gentleman to dance, putting him through his paces to a lively Spanish song. Some of the boys including Sam B and Sam V also decided to put on their dancing shoes and take the floor! Coach Greg, Coach John and Frank committed to their challenge of one length of the pool, which went as far as making even the onlookers shiver (although not quite as much as the three lads swimming the length!)
The boys took the opportunity on their final day of the tournament to support fellow UK clubs Richmond Knights u12 boys and Oaklands Wolves u14 girls in their championship games (read our Knights and Wolves blogs to find out the results!) and take in the amazing atmosphere of this incredible tournament. The team learned so much from their experiences both on and off the court, both from their own games and watching others, and the basketball aspect of Globasket ‘18 was invaluable to them.
The team delighted in each others company, and an already close-knit group became even closer, working together to battle adversity during games against exceptional European opponents and smiling their way through off-court activities at the beach, by the pool, in Barcelona and more. The leadership and teaching from Coaches Greg and Julie was exceptional, and the support from parents Gary and Claire and Assistant Coach John Nash helped the boys to acclimate and thrive in a foreign and often challenging environment.
When it was finally time to say goodbye to Spain, the team packed up their bags and joined Oaklands Girls on the bus to the airport. At the departure gate in an informal ceremony of music and dance ensued, with Thulani putting on a show with the “shoot dance,” and the group enjoyed a quiet and peaceful flight back to Luton airport where they said their goodbyes.
We are already counting down the days until we get the chance to host this wonderfully positive and inspiring group of coaches, supporters and players again…
We are now taking bookings for Globasket 19 !!!
Checkout the Globasket 19 tour page for more details