As the eagerly awaited BBL fixtures were being finally formulated before their publication this week, the league was dealt a blow when it was revealed that basement club Mersey Tigers would not be lining up for the 2013/14 season after a disastrous campaign in 2012/13 that saw them fail to win a game in all BBL competitions.
This included a humiliating BBL Trophy loss at the hands of EBL Division 1 Worthing Thunder who at that time had yet to win a game. So, there was no doubting that it was a tough season for The Tigers and many wondered about their participation in the forthcoming BBL season.
Last week, the feelings of many were confirmed with the announcement of Mersey's withdrawal and whilst it could hardly be deemed a huge surprise for many, it did come as a shock to one or two closely associated with the club who thought they had weathered the storm and were about to turn the corner.
Whilst a 35 game losing season is certainly nothing to write home about, the Tigers did make a lot of friends with their never-say-die attitude and willingness to give young local talent a chance to shine at BBL level and there is no doubting that their players and coaching staff never let their heads drop during difficult times.
One of those that epitomised that attitude and character as well as anyone was 22-year Gael Hulsen (193-G/F-90, agency: LBM Management). The former Belgian Under-20 international came to the club as a virtual unknown and by the end of the season had shown that he could hold his own in the BBL.
Hulsen only missed one game and ended up with respectable statistics of 10.9 points, 3.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds a game averaging 32 minutes per game and he also shot 73.6% from the free throw line. He played more minutes than anyone else on the Tigers roster and despite his young age ended the season as Tigers captain and MVP.
Hulsen had been hoping to go back to Mersey this season and build on his own personal performance as well as try to help the progress of pro-basketball in the City of Liverpool. The announcement last week left him surprised and disappointment and it also left him, currently, without a team for next season.
EuroBasket spoke with Hulsen on the day following the BBL announcement and asked him how he felt about the news of the Tigers demise.
"I feel really sad for the club, staff, owners and all the fans. I had been in touch with the coach since the end of the last season and I know he had worked hard in the off season to form a competitive team that could make progress in the BBL."
"I had hoped to be back next season and help them progress. Despite what happened last season it was still a pleasure to play for the coach, for Mersey Tigers and in The BBL. But, I think it is a complicated situation and one that is difficult to come to terms with and explain. I am saddened and very disappointed that this has happened."
Anyone that saw Hulsen play last season could see that despite the adversity he always gave 100% and showed he could play in the BBL.
"I am still a young professional and motivated to work hard. I am always thinking about raising my level up month after month, week after week, day after day. For a young guy who played his first year in another country, I finished with a correct line of stats."
"I proved to the coach last season that I was regular, consistent and serious in my work and he saw that as I was made Captain of the team after the Christmas break which shows how much he thought of me and my game. And I think I proved to the fans that I have the ability to play at BBL level too as I received the MVP title of the team with 80% of the fans votes."
Clearly at the end of the season Hulsen was hopeful that he would be coming back to the BBL and began his preparations almost as soon as he got back to Belgium.
"As soon as I finished the season and got back to Belgium I immediately made contact with a sport doctor and a physical trainer who set out a schedule for me for all the holidays. The doctor also gave me a diet and continues to monitor me. I also work 5 days a week with an individual coach to keep practicing on all aspects of my game too."
"I would love to come back to the BBL as the level is really competitive and I really appreciate people's mentality in England and their support. But, if I do not make it back to The BBL I hope to play pro-ball somewhere else as before I came to England I had played professionally in Belgium since I was 17."
"I know after my experience last season in the BBL I have raised the level of my game and become better physically and mentally. I feel I have a lot to offer any club that I sign for as I always work hard and defend my clubs colours. I prepare well for every game, take my involvement seriously and give a positive, consistent and committed attitude in everything I do."
Whether Hulsen turns up in The BBL again next season will depend on whether any other club was impressed enough and is willing to take a chance on this likeable young man's talent and attitude. But whatever happens, Hulsen will remember his time in The BBL with Mersey fondly despite the trials and tribulations he went through.
"It was certainly a learning experience and despite what happened to us most games I still enjoyed it. Being in a different country and experiencing different cultures was exciting and I also enjoyed very much the level of the basketball and it showed me that I can play at a good level for the future."
Townsville Heat adds Anderson to their roster, ex Cheshire P. - 1 day ago
follow us on
Townsville Heat (QBL) added to their roster 27-year old British forward Jamell Anderson (200-90). He just played at Cheshire Phoenix in British BBL league. In 33 games he recorded 10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.5apg and 1.9spg this season. The last season Anderson played at Leicester Riders (also in BBL) where in 34 games he averaged 6.6ppg, 3.2rpg and 1.5apg. He helped them to win the regular season and make it to the final. They also played in the Cup final. A very spectacular season in his career... [read more]
Townsville Heat (QBL) added to their roster 27-year old British forward Jamell Anderson (200-90). He just played at Cheshire Phoenix in British BBL league. In 33 games he recorded 10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.5apg and 1.9spg this season. The last season Anderson played at Leicester Riders (also in BBL) where in 34 games he averaged 6.6ppg, 3.2rpg and 1.5apg. He helped them to win the regular season and make it to the final. They also played in the Cup final. A very spectacular season in his career as he was voted to Eurobasket.com British BBL All-Defensive Team. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others Anderson's team won British BBL Cup for two years in a row (2013 and 2014). He represented United Kingdom at the 3x3 World Championships in Greece five years ago. Anderson has played also professionally for other British teams like Nottingham Tribe and Essex Pirates.
It's our penultimate line-up of 2016-17 and while a trio took their last opportunity to shine as their respective seasons came to an end, two of our starters will be hoping to re-appear as they head into the Play-Offs! Mike DiNunno (Cheshire Phoenix) As the curtain fell on an eventful season at Phoenix, the playmaker signed off his participation in spectacular style with a typically influential contribution. Di Nunno lit it up at Cheshire Oaks Arena against Leeds Force by harvesting a ma... [read more]
It's our penultimate line-up of 2016-17 and while a trio took their last opportunity to shine as their respective seasons came to an end, two of our starters will be hoping to re-appear as they head into the Play-Offs!
Mike DiNunno (Cheshire Phoenix) As the curtain fell on an eventful season at Phoenix, the playmaker signed off his participation in spectacular style with a typically influential contribution. Di Nunno lit it up at Cheshire Oaks Arena against Leeds Force by harvesting a massive 36 points in just 22 minutes, after sinking a sizzling eight scores from beyond the three-point line. He also had three rebounds, three assists and not a single turnover during his time on court.
Callum Jones (193-G-85, college: Pace) (Manchester Giants) They may have finished propping up the table, but there was at least a smile of sorts heading into the summer for Giants as they ended their participation with an exciting home win against Plymouth Raiders. That was largely down to a magnificent effort from Jones, as he led his team to victory with a quite brilliant line. The guard finished with a majestic double-double of 26 points and 16 rebounds, while adding seven assists for good measure.
Earl Brown (Cheshire Phoenix) Finishing the season with a flourish and arguably the most consistent performer throughout a campaign of changes for Phoenix, Brown was in scintillating form against Leeds. While his team-mate DiNunno excelled in the backcourt, the forward scythed down Force by registering a huge double-double. He did the business in the paint with an astonishing 84% from the field for 28 points and also added 14 boards and five steals.
Leslee Smith (Bristol Flyers) Despite their worrying start to the season, Flyers find themselves in the Play-Offs after a weekend win double which catapulted them into seventh place. It was imperative Flyers got off to a positive start in their double-header and Smith brought the noise in a big way against Manchester. He was sensational and very much the difference-maker in a hard-fought victory against Giants with a monumental 19-point and 21-rebound double-double to delight the locals.
Tony Wroblicky (DBL Sharks Sheffield) The Sharks are now looking to defend the BBL Play-Off title they famously won at The 02 in London last May and if they manage to do it, you can expect Wroblicky to have a big hand in it. He was on fire for Sharks as they ended Worcester's record winning streak by beating them on the road and in front of the BBC Sport cameras. He weighed in with an outstanding double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds, also not spilling the ball once in 30 minutes on the hardwood.
Off the Bench - Rashad Hassan (London Lions), Kieron Achara (Glasgow Rocks), Jermaine Sanders (Leeds Force), Rahmon Fletcher (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle), Hameed Ali (Bristol Flyers), Chaz Rollins (Surrey Scorchers), Rob Marsden (Leeds Force).
Copyright (c) 1998-2017 Eurobasket Inc. Disclaimer
Do not copy, redistribute, publish or otherwise exploit information that you download from the site !
Do not encumber, license, modify, publish, sell, transfer or transmit, or in any way exploit, any of the
content of the site, nor will you attempt to do so.