Basketball England pick U16 & U18 national team players for GB selection camp ahead of European Championships

Basketball England has today (Thursday) announced the female and male national team players that will go forward to the inaugural GB selection camp in June ahead of the FIBA U16 & U18 European Championships this summer.

Following on from the successful conclusion of the second National Junior Training Camps (NJTCs) in Birmingham, Leicester and Manchester yesterday (Wednesday), the governing body of basketball in this country has selected 68 England players in total across four age-group categories: the U18 men (18), U18 women (17), U16 boys (17) and U16 girls (16).

They shall now vie with their Scottish and Welsh counterparts in two months’ time for the honour of representing Great Britain at the respective showpieces later on this year.

The selected players are as follows:

U16 Boys: Alex Gager (Surrey Goldhawks), Charlie Brown (Derby Trailblazers), Chester Morrell (Shoreham Spartans), David Chive (London Greenhouse Pioneers), Eljay Morris (London Thunder – Lewisham), Harrison Bell (Doncaster Danum Eagles), Joseph Barrett (Bradford Dragons), Kareem Queeley (Real Madrid, Spain), Kemari Kennley Bailey (Southwark Legends), Louis Norton-Cuffy (Peckham Pride), Mate Okros (Kent Crusaders), Olusasegun ‘Segun’ Shodunke (Kent Crusaders), Theo Hughes (Brentwood Fire), Timothy Adetukasi (Brentwood Fire), Tomiwa Sulaiman (London Greenhouse Pioneers), Vasja Pandza (Leeds Force), Veron Eze (Ipswich).

U16 Girls: Alexandra Baker (Sevenoaks Suns), Ashana Hinds (Manchester Mystics), Ashante Richards (Sheffield Hatters), Brahe Ashton (Nottingham Wildcats), Esther Little (Ipswich), Jade Guidolin-Duncan (London Greenhouse Pioneers), Jess Southwell (Sheffield Hatters), Katie Bennett (Southend Swifts), Khia Lee (Manchester Mystics), Lauren Saa (West Bromwich Albion), Lilly Annim (Southend Swifts), Loren Christie (Oaklands Wolves), Mia Sarkodee-Adoo (Oaklands Wolves), Rebecca Harwood-Bellis (Tameside Basketball Club), Sarah Wooldridge (Redstar Belgrade, Serbia), Shanice Flitton (GCA Haringey Angels).

U18 Men: Adria Amabilino-Perez (Derby Trailblazers), Ashley Barrett-Briggs (Team Solent Kestrels), Brian Amabilino-Perez (Derby Trailblazers), Caleb Fuller (Ipswich), Hosana Kitenge (Worthing Thunder), Jacob Round (Fuenlabrada, Spain), Joshua Edwards (London Thunder), Joshua Ogundele (Barking Abbey), Kaiyem Cleary (Manchester Magic), Kayne Henry-McCalla (London Westside), Micah Savery-Richards (Leeds Force), Nathan Robinson (Las Lomas, Walnut Creek, USA), Nelson Boachie Yiadom (Loomis Chaffee, USA), Peter Strigas (Olympiacos Piraeus, Greece), Pierce Maslen (Barking Abbey), Romario Spence (Charnwood College), Sesan Russell (Loughborough Student Riders), Zion Tordoff (Lancashire Spinners).

U18 Women: Charlotte Ellmore (Barking Abbey), Cheyenne Scott (Southwark Pride), Daniela Lozzi (Sevenoaks Suns), Ebony Horton (Leicester Riders), Flora Durgerian (Sevenoaks Suns), Holly Winterburn (Leicester Riders), Ire Ozzy-Momodu (Southwark Pride), Jade Blackburn (Sevenoaks Suns), Loie Webb (Logan Basketball, Australia), Macy Spinks (Oaklands Wolves), Maya Price (Ipswich), Milly Knowles (Lancashire Spinners), Shauna Harrison (Lancashire Spinners), Teresa Da Silva (Barking Abbey), Tia Freeman (Oaklands Wolves), Zoe Willis (Barking Abbey), Sophie Owen (Hawthorn, Australia).

Basketball England’s Technical and Performance Manager Vladan Dragosavac commented: “I’d firstly like to commend all of the players that have participated in these Easter camps and the ones back in December for their commitment, dedication and hard work.

“Representing Great Britain at the U16 & U18 European Championships for the very first time is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at a truly prestigious event and we feel our players in those age groups have really risen to the challenge over the course of the last six months.

“An important factor in the selection of these particular players has been the energy and time invested in their respective games and skill sets by their AASE (Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence) institution/academy/club coaches.

“They’re the ones who sacrifice a lot in order to see their young players progressively develop into England – and Great Britain – players, so they deserve a great deal of credit as well.”

The England U18 women’s head coach Vanessa Ellis and the England U16 girls’ head coach Matthew Harber were with their respective charges for the three-day NJTC in Birmingham earlier this week, whereas Leicester was the base for Alan Keane’s England U18 men and James Vear’s England U16 boys.

Keane commented: “This camp has been about us giving the guys as much of an opportunity as possible to show us what they can do.

“We gave them a framework and some principles to work with in certain scenarios and situations and then we stepped back and assessed their individual capabilities and deficiencies.

“By the end of the camp, we had a far clearer picture of who can do what and, moving forward, who are the better players in terms of what we need from a national team player.

“We have been crystal clear with them with regards to what we expect from a GB player and the qualities and characteristics it takes to become one.”

Ellis said: “I hope the girls will have come away from this camp with an even greater understanding of some key principles that we have to follow.

“You need to be aggressive and physical on defence in international basketball. You need to understand your specific role on defence and it’s also about defending as a team.

“There are some equally pertinent points to consider on offence and we must build on these fundamental things in the future.

“The players have got to develop very good skill sets as there are certain things you’ve got to do well to play at international level.”

Harber stated: “I’m very happy with the camp as the players have delivered their best and both they – and us as a coaching staff – maximised the time that we had together.

“It has been really good to see the players back on the floor again because we have been apart for a fair while now.

“We’ve been building our relationships with each and every player over the intervening period though and it’s great to see the fruits of their labour now – both from a physical standpoint and also in terms of their development as basketball players.

“It’s a really prestigious honour to represent Great Britain. To play for one of the home nations – be it England, Scotland or Wales – is a massive achievement, but to play for Great Britain is another step.”

Vear added: “What we have tried to get across to the players in this short period of time is the way that we want to play – both offensively and defensively.

“It has been good to get them all playing together so that they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses game-wise. It’s also about instilling a camaraderie and team spirit within the group off the court as well.

“They’ve done a really good job of competing hard against each other. The guys had a good attitude throughout the three days and it has all been very positive.

“We have some great athletes and talented players – anybody can see that. Tactically and technically, we’re fundamentally not as good as some of the other European countries. We can make up for that though with our athleticism a lot of the time.

“I speak to coaches all of the time and they always say how we have amazing athletes, but we’re just not as good as some of the other European countries tactically and technically.

“When we get to that level in the future – and I hope we’re working towards that now – we could be a powerhouse in Europe. The potential is absolutely unbelievable.”

The GB U18 men will compete in Group A of the FIBA European Championships, Division B in Tallinn, Estonia between July 28th and August 6th. They’ve been drawn against Albania, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The GB U18 women have been pitted alongside tournament hosts Ireland at the FIBA European Championships, Division B in Dublin from August 4th to 13th. The other four nations in Group D are Macedonia, Moldova, Slovakia and Ukraine.

The GB U16 men will travel to Sofia, Bulgaria for the FIBA European Championships, Division B between August 10th and 19th. They – like the U18 women – have been drawn in Group D, where they will face Georgia, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Macedonia and Portugal.

The GB U16 women are also in Group D for the FIBA European Championships, Division B in Skopje, Macedonia from August 17th to 26th. Their pool-phase opponents will be Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Slovakia and Switzerland.