GBMaxiBasketball Tournament Preparation

1st August 2022 Max Curle

It has been a little while since I have written an update on GBMaxiBasketball and my involvement with it. This is due to life opening up fully, therefore not having as much time to write as I did previously during lockdowns. But also, spoiler alert, I made the team so I have had to focus on the actual basketball.

After the last blog entry I knew I couldn’t make the next two camps due to them falling on the weekends I would have my boys. Knowing this I was tempted to withdraw from the process and I gave Liam, the coach, an easy decision, I would have been an easy cut. However after talking it through with Julia and a couple of close friends, I didn’t. I decided I would see the process through. Despite feeling somewhat disassociated from the group, due to my absence, I kept in contact with the coach, and a couple of the players, I kept working out, running, and getting my shots up.

After the January camp (that I missed) we were all told we would be called by Coach Liam to inform us on whether we would be selected as part of the final 12, be made a reserve, or be cut completely. I will be honest this was a nervous time for me, despite my absence I had committed a lot of time and energy in to getting as fit as possible and practice time had become a daily habit.

There were many discussion via whatsapp with Tom Adorian about who might make the squad, in all honesty I found it impossible to choose 12, and would of hated to be in the coaches position. At this stage of the proceedings everyone has skill and talent, and had committed themselves to making the team, the personalities of the players must have been a deciding factor.

My phone call was postponed a couple of times, which didn’t make me feel great about my chances. Despite having a number of encouraging voices in my ear I was never fully convinced I would make the selection, I felt like my basketball CV was not as strong as some of the other players, despite playing pretty well at the camps I had been to.

The phone call came and to my delight I was selected for the final 12 to travel to Malaga to represent GBMaxiBasketball.

Now the real work was to begin.

We had 3 more camps planned, which would include friendly matches. A further games against D1 team Hemel Storm and a Triangular tournament at Loughborough University.

The first camp after selection was in Sheffield, this saw us play against the GBMaxi 40+ team, whilst it was a competitive game we knew all of the opposition and we knew that our fitness and intensity should see us through with a victory.

This was the first time we were together in a game situation and a team we started slowly, we allowed the 40+ team a small lead. I came in off the bench and got to the line with my first two touches, and made a 3 form our out of bounds play on my next touch. I remember not shooting great at this camp so was extremely pleased to see that go in. As the game went on we gained control of the game and won relatively easily. As a team there was a lot we could and would have to improve on but it was great to win our first game.

The next time we met up was in Hemel for a friendly game on Easter Saturday against D1 outfit, Hemel Storm. This game doubled up as Hemels end of season award night, as well as a testimonial for 4 of their longest serving players. 3 of which were now part of our team, Walid Mumuni, Tom Adorian and captain Simon Kierney. The game took place in front of close to 500 spectators, which lead to a great atmosphere. The game itself was fast paced and intense, a lot of fun to play in. I came off the bench and scored with my first shot. Grabbed a couple of steals and tried to play hard and execute the plays. I didn’t take many shots but scored most that I did take and left the arena absolutely buzzing and excited for the next time we were to meet up.

Max and Sam, pick and roll v Hemel Storm

We then had 2 additional camps at the Hoods Arena in Nottingham. With the team picked the focus was now on game preparation and team chemistry. After a somewhat tricky day of going over the plays and working at a high intensity, we played a friendly game against Nottingham Hoods on the Sunday. Hoods are a division 1 outfit, with a group of quick athletic guards and a very skilled 7-foot centre. I came of the bench again, scoring 9 points. I played some decent defence and tried to play with energy and execute the plays. However I took and missed a lot of 3-point shots, not my finest moment and a little disappointing. We ended up losing by 18 points.

Just 4 weeks later we were back in Nottingham for our final camp. Saturday morning started with a presentation to each player with all of our game and travel kit, a nice touch by The GB Maxi basketball committee, headed by Sadie Mason and Jesse Sazant. Once the presentations were over we were down to training. We started with intensity, and I caught an accidental elbow to the mouth, which cut my lip. It just so happened that I was not wearing my gumshield at the time!

Kit presentation at Hoods Arena

The Saturday session was intense and competitive, I played well, hitting some shots and working hard. Like at the previous camp, I shared a hotel room with Tom Adorian, we went out for some food and headed back to watch the Champions League final.

Sunday, we had a classroom session followed by a friendly against Derby Trailblazers (a combination of their 1st and 2nd teams). Coach Liam started me in this game. I was told he liked my chemistry with the starting group and this allowed Simon Kierney to come off the bench and balance out our offensive options. Either way I took this a massive vote of confidence for myself.

This game was a clash of styles; our more thought out methodical way of playing verse their more fluid energetic style. I took less shots than the Nottingham game

and made a couple. We held on for a 8 point victory. Not too bad after a long weekend, and it was nice that the team acknowledged my 39th birthday after the game.

Our final preparation weekend was a week later in Loughborough, a triangular tournament playing against Loughborough Riders (D1) on Saturday, followed by the Wales Senior Men’s team on Sunday.

Loughborough were extremely well organised and drilled, it seemed they didn’t missed many shots in the first half. They had some good players who were capped at international level and other playing up with the Leicester Riders BBL team. The game was closer then the score suggested, as we fouled down the stretch and put the Riders to the line in the last couple of minutes. They edged a competitive game by 10 points. I again started the game, and played reasonably well. I again wasn’t happy with my outside shooting but was a threat with drives to the basket and played some good defence. Sam Toluwase was a constant threat (and was obviously becoming our biggest offensive threat) , and Tom had his best game for us as he gradually returned to full fitness after being injured during the game against the 40+s.

Tip Off v Loughborough Riders

3 pointer v Loughborough Riders

The game against Wales we viewed as a better match up for us, and likely more similar to the expected opposition we would face in Malaga, slightly older and seemingly less athletic. We stated well, going up 10-2, including a nice out of bounds play (‘triangle’) where I managed to make a jump shot! Wales edged their way back into the game and took the lead with some excellent outside shooting; they took the lead at half time by 2 points. The second half was tight throughout, each team going on short runs, instantly cancelled out by the other. Again trying to do more than just be a shooter, I played some good defence and made my free throws when fouled. Going into the final possession of the game we were down by 1 point, with less than 20 seconds left. Sam stole the ball ran the length of the court, where he missed a layup. Luckily the ball fell to our point guard, Mike Gayle, who shot a falling fadaway bank shot on the buzzer, which dropped in to seal a 1-point victory. Unbelievably, Our final action on UK soil before we were to fly out to Malaga.


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