BTM Select Boys Tackle the Globasket ’19 Tournament
The BTM Select U12 Boys were a group of 12 players mostly from Sussex (and one Welsh player) that took on the Globasket ‘19 tournament, a youth basketball event in Lloret de Mar, Spain that features teams from many countries across Europe.
The group consisted of Coach James, Tour Mum Candace, BTM Rep Tom and players Isaac, Rudy, Noah, Josh, Huxley, Dylan, Henry, Tae, Harry, Will, Leo and Abdul. For almost all of the players it was their first time on an international basketball tour, which would be remembered for a lifetime by both the kids and adults in the group.
The group met in the afternoon at Gatwick airport, where after bustling through check-in, security and navigating the departure lounge it was time to board the flight to Barcelona! There was a huge amount of excitement on board the plane as the team settled in to their seats and prepared for the two-hour flight to Barcelona Airport. The boys all showed amazing fortitude leaving behind their parents for the week to take part in this basketball adventure, not least the youngest player on the tour Huxley, a 10 year old with maturity and composure far beyond his years.
Upon arrival the group was met by the Globasket bus, on which the players and adults jumped on for the hour ride to Lloret de Mar. On the bus alongside the BTM group was the Richmond Knights, Russell Hoops Boys and Limerick Celtics girls, who blasted music from the back while Tae showed some of his in-seat dance moves.
The Hotel Samba would be their home for the next 7 days, and after a quick bite to eat in the hotel restaurant, the boys were checked in to their rooms and headed to bed for some rest.
After a small lie-in, the boys headed downstairs for their first chance to take on the hotel buffet, which at breakfast offered a variety of foods from eggs, bacon and beans to fruits, yoghurt and much more. Some of the boys took advantage of the variety of fruits on offer, while others saw it as an opportunity to see who could eat the most cakes.
After eating heartily they headed down to the pool where some of the boys braved the chilly water, while others laid out in the warm Barcelona sun, including Noah and Leo who took the time to work on their Summer tans. By this time they had also discovered the hotel playground with slides and swings, and they played various games and chased each other around. Josh arrived at the hotel to meet the rest of the group and was embraced by all of his Sussex-based teammates.
The team had a solid lunch in preparation for their first game, which was against YMCA Tampere of Finland, a tough and scrappy team with a couple of key players that carried the bulk of the scoring. The boys walked down to the Pompeu Fabra gymnasium, a 2-court facility where all of the U12 games would be hosted for duration of the tournament. This fantastic gym had a large viewing balcony where spectators could watch the games, and the atmosphere in the building was electric for the entirety of the week.
The boys arrived looking very smart in their BTM kits, and after a swift warm-up with Coach James it was time to take the court. The BTM Boys came out with incredible energy, attacking the basket aggressively and playing relentless full court defense to build up a lead. However Tampere were not to be outdone, and fought back thanks to the physical play of their forwards. However it was the British boys that would prevail, as they pulled further and further away to grab a 69-54 win, a successful start to their Globasket ‘19 campaign!
The boys were exhausted by the end of their first day in Lloret de Mar, and would have a very early start the following morning, so they headed to bed in prep for their 2nd full day in Lloret de Mar. Team captain Henry showed excellent leadership both on the court and off of it, and always offered a “voice of reason” amongst the madness of 12 young boys on their first trip away from home, which included during bedtimes when rest and sleep were so vitally important for the players.
It was an early 7.30 am wake-up for the BTM Boys and an 8 am breakfast, before the short 5 minute walk to Pompeu Fabra for their 2nd game of the tournament. This game would be against Fuenlabrada, a renowned ACB club from Madrid that routinely produces exceptional junior teams.
The boys had been prepped for a tough game, and “Fuenla” showed very early on why they were some of the top U12 players in Madrid, with slick passing on the offensive end and some tremendously tricky full court defense that forced the BTM Boys into making difficult plays. This was precisely the style of basketball the team expected to come up against, a fantastic learning experience for the players who had mostly only ever faced UK opposition back home.
It was tight early on, as the BTM Boys did just enough to stay within reaching distance of the Fuenla team, but ultimately it was the Spanish that pulled away in the latter parts of the game to secure a 167-38 victory. While the boys were disappointed at the loss, it offered a major basketball education for them and would force them to be ready for their next game against FC Barcelona.
After a solid lunch in the hotel restaurant, the boys boarded the bus to Barcelona which dropped the group at La Rambla and offered a chance for a whirlwind tour of the city’s most famous street. Abdul spotted a life-sized Buzz Lightyear statue and adamantly battled time constraints to capture a photo for his brother, who is a massive fan of Buzz. After seeing some of the sights and buying souvenirs, the boys hopped back on the bus for the short journey 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! During the 2nd quarter of the contest Dylan was on a mission to get popcorn, and navigated long lines and language barriers to secure his fix. A very satisfied group of boys hopped back on the bus back to Lloret de Mar where they went to bed dreaming of becoming ACB superstars..
After a reasonably late night returning from the Joventut game, the boys were given a chance to sleep a little later that morning before arising to another delicious Hotel Samba breakfast, which included pancakes, croissants, bacon, eggs, fruits and biscuits. Candace then put the boys through a relaxing yoga session by the pool to help prepare them mentally and physically for the very important day ahead.
Monday would prove to be a huge day for the group, with two key games versus FC Barcelona and CEB Girona, the latter tabbed as the tournament favourites with their exceptional guard play and size.
The boys were a little nervous for their first game of the day versus FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most famous basketball clubs that has produced such players as Juan Carlos Navarro and Pau Gasol, and it would be an amazing opportunity for our Sussex (and Wales) boys to take on their future stars.
The game started well for the British boys, as they built up a small but important lead thanks to some clutch shooting and aggressive offensive rebounding. FC Barcelona were not to be outdone, and kept one foot in the door with some impressive transition play and finishing around the basket. However it was once again the BTM Boys that pulled away when it counted, coming together in the final quarters to secure a 76-54 win and give them a 2-1 record in the tournament so far!
The boys were delighted and headed to a local Dominoes for some celebratory pizza, while styling in their Globasket tournament t-shirts that they’d just been given. After filling up, they headed back to the hotel for some down-time before the evening showdown with tournament favourite CEB Girona.
They arrived back at the Pompeu Fabra ready to take on the giants, and began their warm-ups looking fierce and determined. The game started off very closely contested, with teams trading baskets and BTM doing their best to lock down the “giants” of Girona, a couple of 6’2 players that towered above the rest of the boys. Girona also had some lights out shooters, which made it impossible to expend too many resources covering the inside players.
CEB Girona’s size and team play eventually began to catch up with BTM, and despite their all-out effort and hustle, the British boys began to fall out of touch with the Spanish team’s scoreline with a final score of 111-60. Nevertheless it had been a tremendous opportunity for the boys to compete against such high level U12 players, and they returned to the hotel in positive and upbeat spirits where they ate dinner and went to bed.
Tuesday morning began with breakfast and a team meeting with Coach James, where all the boys discussed the tour so far, their aims and aspirations and how they could help the team achieve success through the remainder of the tour. They also went through some defensive schemes, and kept up their competitive spirits with some table tennis action!
After a nutrient-packed lunch, they headed back to the Pompeu Fabra for their first playoff game of the tournament. The BTM Boys finished 3rd in their group of 5, which meant they would be matched up against the 2nd place finisher in the opposite group, Sant Andreu Natzaret of the Barcelona region. Sant Andreu were a small but very feisty team that played probably the best defense of any team in the tournament, always appearing to have 2 players doubling the basketball and causing masses of turnovers for their opponents. They also had some key scorers who had skill-sets way beyond their years, and would be a really tough team for our boys to tackle. Nevertheless the support behind the BTM was fantastic, including the Pinkney’s who had shown up in full force at every game to get behind Will and the team.
After a solid warm-up it was time to get down to business, and Sant Andreu hadn’t shown up just to take part as they immediately pressured the British boys into multiple turnovers, making it very difficult for the BTM team to get the ball over the halfway line and in to offense. By the time the BTM Boys had figured it out the Sant Andreu team had built up a solid lead, which they never relinquished thanks to their relentless defensive intensity.
However the BTM Boys didn’t go down without a fight, and they made the Spanish team pay in transition and around the basket with some nifty finishing on both sides and some excellent ball movement in the half court. The game finished with a score of 115-59 to Sant Andreu, leaving BTM with one more consolation game the following day.
A free afternoon meant a chance to hit the local beach for some time on the sand and in the sea, and the boys took to burying each other, with Rudy receiving the award for being buried the deepest. Some of the boys splashed around in the water, including Dylan who considered himself the David Hasselhoff of Lloret de Mar. Their beach afternoon culminated with some ice creams on their way back to the hotel, which they all appeared to be delighted with.
After dinner the group headed to the local bowling alley where they joined the Russell Hoops team for a good old-fashioned game of ten-pin. There were some very interesting techniques that emerged, and many gutter balls thrown, but the boys all really enjoyed themselves. Isaac and Tae joined the adults group of James, Candace, Tom and Tiff and more than held their own.
Some free time in the hotel ensued, and the boys went to bed having had another fantastic day in Lloret de Mar.
The boys began the day with some breakfast and much-needed pool time, where even more of the team decided to brave the cool water and jump in! After a yoga session and lunch they were ready for game-time, their last match-up of the tournament being against fellow Brits Russell Hoops.
One last trip to the Pompeu Fabra had the two British teams warming up at either end of the court ready for their respective final battles of Globasket ‘19. The BTM Boys started off with a bang, their tremendous defense leading to quick scores at the offensive end and putting Russell Hoops on the backfoot for the entire first half. Hoops had some firepower of their own, with a squad that featured players from all over the South including some Sussex-based players, and they kept pushing for the entirety of the game.
The BTM Boys stretched out the lead going into the 2nd half and shared the ball wonderfully, with all the players getting on the scoresheet and making their mark on the contest, running out winners with a score of 103-52. Harry was an incredible teammate in every game that was played throughout the tournament, giving his all not only during his time on the court but also from the bench, being vocal and being the first to high five his teammates as they came off the court.
Both teams embraced at the half-way mark after the game and made their way back to the hotel not as rivals, but as one big family. The boys grabbed some dinner and spent the evening hanging out in the hotel games room, enjoying the pool table and video games on offer before heading back to their rooms for bed.
The boys began their day with an awards ceremony to mark an exceptional Globasket ‘19 tournament week, where James, Candace and Tom spoke to the boys about their hard work and commitment and the “Coaches Player” and “Player’s Player” awards were given out. Coaches Player went to Leo, a tremendous player and person who offered so much value to the team both through his ability and his amazing attitude. Player’s Player was Henry Bugden, a true captain with an amazing all-round skill set and natural leadership abilities.
The boys had a brief shopping stint downtown, where they picked up a few souvenirs for family back home and some bits and bobs for themselves, before heading back to the hotel to gulp down lunch and board the bus to Barcelona airport. After a hurried check-in and sprint through security it was on to the plane home to Gatwick and the various Mums, Dads, brothers and sisters awaiting the boys back home in England!
It was an absolute pleasure hosting the boys at the Globasket tournament – the resilience, effort, camaraderie and selflessness they showed throughout the experience was inspiring and it was a joy being in their presence. A huge thank you to Coach James for his patience, hard work and inspiration and to Tour Mum Candace who took care of the boys so well. We look forward to taking the BTM Boys on another tour in the future…