Brentwood Leopards On the Prowl at the Globasket ’19 Tournament
The Brentwood Leopards U14 Boys attended the Globasket ‘18 tournament, where they struggled against some highly elite competition from countries including Spain, Portugal and Romania. After an exceptional 2018/19 season in the UK, they were looking to bounce back at Globasket ‘19 and show how much they’d improved, as well as being joined by the Leopards U16 Boys who were taking on their first international experience.
Both teams arrived at the airport bright and early on the Saturday, ready for their flight to Barcelona and a chance to take on the 2019 edition of Globasket! A smooth transition onto the airplane and a swift 2-hour flight had them in Barcelona in no time, and upon arrival at the Hotel Samba in Lloret de Mar they quickly unpacked and grabbed some dinner at the hotel buffet. The U16s shocked to see so much food and selection that Spain could offer, especially on the dessert front.
The U14’s would have a chance that evening to take on a friendly warm-up game versus Askatuak Urdin, a team from San Sebastian in the North-East corner of Spain. They headed to the Pompeu Fabra gymnasium, where on the opposite court their fellow Brits “BTM Select” were facing off against a Finnish team YMCA Tampere.
It was a great game in which the Leopards led early by as many as 10, before Urdin came storming back to win 66-54. It was a great opportunity for the Leopards to gain some much needed experience before the tournament began the following day.
Both teams settled down for some dinner and got an early night in preparation for the serious business of the Globasket game schedule beginning the next day.
The U16’s were up bright and early for their first game of the tournament versus Alcorcon Basket, a powerhouse Spanish program from the Madrid region that routinely put out great junior teams. It would prove to be an incredibly tough start for the young Leopards, many of whom were a year young for the tournament, but a great opportunity nevertheless.
In what ended up being a one-sided affair at the Blanes stadium, Alcorcon used their experience and ability to overpower the Leopards with some phenomenal team play and precise shooting, as well as the relentless defensive tenacity that Spanish teams play with. It was clear that the Leopards were facing one of the top teams in the competition, and the Spanish team grabbed a 114-34 victory.
Back at the hotel the boys had a chance to grab showers and then refuel at the hotel buffet, reflecting on what was likely the most challenging game of their basketball careers so far. Coach Tom wanted to start a ‘Shaqtin’ a Fool’ tour series where after each game the players would get to decide the clumsiest moment of the game! The team also voted on a game MVP which was selected at dinner each night by Coach Tom and BTM Rep, Alex.
The U14’s would begin their campaign against Hapoel Matte Asher, an Israeli team that would play a physical and tough style of basketball and prove to be a great matchup for the Leopards team. Seeking their first ever Globasket win, the Leopards were very hungry going into the game and very confident about their chances this year.
In a fantastic game, the Leopards used their ability to score inside and outside and their hardworking defense to battle the Israeli team. Despite being down by 6 at halftime, they kept their heads up and came storming back in the 2nd, winning the half by 15 points and securing a 67-58 win! It was a wonderful moment for this team that had been so much younger than the competition the previous year and worked so hard over the course of their season back home.
Once both teams were done with their games they reconvened back at the hotel, before jumping on the bus to the Palau Municipal d’Esports de Badalona, home of Divina Seguros Joventut, a team in the top-flight ACB league of Spain. Joventut were playing against San Pablo Burgos, and the boys took their seats for what would end up being an incredibly exciting game. There were multiple lead changes and a storming comeback from Joventut, which culminated with a buzzer-beating 3-point shot to secure the victory for the home team!
Two tired teams of Leopards hopped back on the bus back to the Hotel Samba for dinner, some rest and relaxation and bedtime.
Monday would be a very heavy day of basketball for both teams with 2 games each on their respective itineraries, with the 16’s playing at 9 am and 5.45 pm and the 14’s playing a tough 4 pm and 7.30 pm schedule.
The 16’s would begin their Monday with an early game Vilobi, where they would face another tournament favourite the Limerick Celtics of Ireland. The Celtics are one of Ireland’s top junior clubs, and would show their strength this morning against the Leopards as they scored in a variety of ways and played rugged defense typical of Irish basketball. After the first-game jitters, the Leopards looked a lot stronger in this contest but found themselves down 22 at the half and ended up dropping the game 97-61. However it was a performance to be proud of.
The boys hopped on the bus back to Hotel Samba and had some lunch and down-time in prep for their game against CD Aristos later that evening.
The 14’s spent the morning enjoying the delights of Lloret de Mar beach, spending time on the sand and paddling in the sea while getting some much-needed relaxation in preparation for the evening games. Two wins would secure them 1st place in the group and a “bye” on the Tuesday, a huge achievement for the boys from Brentwood.
After lunch at the hotel buffet they walked down to Municipal for their first game of the day versus Gent-Oost Eagles from Belgium, who had lost their previous two games and were desperately seeking their first win of the tournament. However, it would not be against the Leopards, who were really hitting their stride and set the tone for the game in the 1st quarter with a resounding 31-11 lead. The Eagles couldn’t handle the Leopards physicality on offense and defensive toughness, and Coaches Greg and Julie were able to spread the minutes across the board getting all the players substantial time on the court. In a resounding performance, the Leopards dominated the entire game and won 87-60.
It was time for their 3rd group game at Municipal, which would be against Spanish team CD Aristos who were also seeking their first win, and the boys were pumped after their improved morning performance against Limerick. The Leopards played their hearts out in the first half, rebounding ferociously and putting points on the board, and they led by just 2 points going into half-time. It was much the same in the 3rd quarter, as both teams fought hard and Leopards went into the 4th up by 6. A comeback by CD Aristos saw them leading by 1 point with the seconds ticking down, as Leopards hoisted up a 3-point shot on the buzzer that scorched the net and gave the Brentwood boys an incredible 46-44 win! It was an incredible achievement for Coach Tom and his team, and thoroughly deserved after all the hard work they’d put in.
The 16’s headed back to the hotel for dinner and then enjoyed some down-time, playing table tennis and pool in the hotel recreation area and mingling with other international teams over cans of Fanta.
Meanwhile in Tossa de Mar, the U14’s were obliterating local team Sant Andreu Natzaret, taking a resounding 19-point lead into the 2nd quarter and a 33-point lead into half-time. It was again a chance for Coaches Greg and Julie to spread the minutes across the board, and the Leopards were brimming with confidence as they finished with an 83-53 win and a 1st place finish in their group.
They arrived back at the hotel for a very late dinner, and went off to bed a very happy team of Leopards!
Both the 16’s and the 14’s enjoyed a later lie-in than usual after their previous evening of action, and then headed down to the hotel pool where they caught some Barcelona sunshine and swam in the chilly water. Most of the boys had to jump in, as Coach Tom had set them forfeits based on their individual ‘Shaqtin’ a Fool’ moments. The mood in camp was very high amongst both groups, and the only fixture for the day would be the 16’s final group game versus Horsholm 79ers which the 14’s would also attend to give their support.
After some lunch both teams jumped on the bus to Sils where the 16’s would play their final group game versus Horsholm, a team from Denmark that had built up somewhat of a rivalry within the hotel corridors. This game was huge, and would decide who would finish 3rd in the group and move into the consolation semi-final game.
After being down as many as 19 points in the 2nd half, the Leopards never dropped their heads and spurred on by the energy of Coach Tom they kept plugging away. Their efforts were rewarded as they clawed back to take an 8-point lead, which they clung onto in the dying seconds to win 55-53! It was an incredibly gutsy performance by the Brentwood boys, who despite such adversity had kept battling and come away with a decisive victory in their final group game.
After dinner at the Hotel Samba, the 16’s headed to the local bowling alley for a good old-fashioned game of ten-pin in which Coach Tom very much dominated. After getting their bowling fix, some free time in the hotel ensued for both teams, and the boys went to bed having had another awesome day in Lloret de Mar. Funnily enough the hotel corridors were a lot quieter that night on the Danish front!
The 14’s had an early start on the Wednesday for their quarter-final game versus Askatuak Urdin, the Spanish team they had faced off against in the warm-up game the evening of their arrival. Their previous meeting had been a very competitive affair, and this contest would prove to be as hotly-contested as the last.
A big first quarter for the Leopards gave them a 10-point lead going into the 2nd, where both teams matched each other basket for basket to give the Brentwood boys a 10-point lead going into half-time. The team from San Sebastian came out blazing in the 3rd, outscoring the Leopards 29-11 to give the Spanish an 8-point lead going into the 4th. However Leopards had not come this far to bow out, and their incredible camaraderie and team chemistry came to fruition as they fought their way back into the game and tied it up with seconds to spare, forcing overtime. In the overtime period it was the Leopards that controlled a very narrow lead, ultimately holding a 93-92 scoreline as the final buzzer sounded and they booked their place in the semi-final!
The joyous 14’s returned to the hotel where they joined the 16’s poolside for some much-needed rest and recuperation. Both teams were thrilled at the success they’d had at the tournament so far, and they still had further opportunity to advance and continue making a name for the Brentwood Leopards club at Globasket ‘19.
After some lunch they both jumped on the bus to Sils where the 14’s were due to play the powerful Alcorcon Basket in their semi-final matchup. The 16’s had played the Madrid-based Alcorcon team in their first game of the tournament, where the Spanish team had showed their prowess, and it would likely be a big challenge for the Leopards against their 14’s side.
Alcorcon went racing out to a 28-6 lead thanks to some great team play and tough defensive pressure on the Leopards, and never looked back as they continued to pile on the pressure throughout the game. The Leopards gave it all they had and the 16’s cheered hard from the stands for their fellow Brentwood boys, but ultimately the Spanish team proved too strong and ran away with an 85-46 win and a place in the championship game. That meant the Leopards would play for 3rd place the following day against Easo SBT, another team from San Sebastian in Spain.
After a muddle-up in the fixtures, the 16’s found out they were playing later than expected against Orissaare Sport from Estonia. It would prove to be a major challenge for the British boys who couldn’t seem to get their scoring going, and after a very defensive 9-6 1st quarter in favour of Orissaare, the Estonian team took control of the game and lit the Leopards up for 22 points in the 2nd. The British boys played a tough defensive game, but their lack of scoring production let them down and they finished the game with 20 points to Orissaare’s 57.
Despite a couple of losses the boys had still put on a tremendous showing at the tournament, and they celebrated with an end of tour dinner at a local pizza restaurant where they enjoyed delicious slices and drinks, with the coaches then moving on to watch the Champions League match Tottenham v Man City. Both teams would have one more game the following morning before departing for the UK, the 14’s in the 3rd place consolation game and the 16’s in the “consolation bracket” 3rd place consolation game.
Both teams were up very early for their final games of the tournament, with the 16’s taking on Horsholm 79ers in a rematch at Blanes and the 14’s taking on Easo SBT at Vilobi.
The 16’s, who had fought so hard in their previous game against the 79ers to scrape out a 55-53 win, didn’t have much in the tank on this particular morning and lost control of the game early, facing a 15-point deficit at half-time and ultimately losing out 80-39 versus the Danish team. This game ended with plenty of smiles and laughs from both teams, as a great bond was made due to being in the same corridor at the hotel. The 14’s were playing Easo SBT from San Sebastian, Spain, and worked hard in the first half to keep up before a massive 3rd quarter from the Spanish team put the game out of contention and they lost 96-63.
Despite their final two losses, it was an incredibly successful tournament for both teams. The 14’s finished in 4th place out of 13 teams, an amazing accomplishment that they fully deserved after all their hard work since Globasket ‘18. For the young and inexperienced 16’s, reaching the consolation semi-final was a tremendous achievement and one they should be really proud of moving forward.
After a quick return to Hotel Samba the teams packed up, said their goodbyes to Globasket ‘19 and hopped on the bus to Barcelona airport and their flight home to London.
On the 14’s side, a massive shout out to Coaches Greg and Julie for their upbeat positivity and effort throughout the entire tour, and to Claire and Gary for their always tremendous support of the team. Huge thanks to Coach Tom on the 16’s for spurring his team on during the good times and the challenging times. We are so proud of what the Leopards accomplished at Globasket ‘19 and are excited to see what the future holds for these two teams.