The NBL Weekend Takeover for 23/24 March will see Newcastle Knights take the reins of the NBL Instagram story.
We caught up with Newcastle's Alei Wol ahead of their takeover weekend, in our latest Player Spotlight feature.
Name: Alei Wol
Team: Team Newcastle Knights - NBL Division 1
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Alei Wol, I’m a 6'5 Forward currently playing for Newcastle Knights. I’m originally from South London and first began playing basketball at Kennington Generals, before Westminster Warriors and then COLA and Peckham Pride. This is my third season playing for Newcastle Knights and my second in NBL Division 1, as we achieved promotion in my first year.
What brought you to the NBL in the first place?
I started playing in the NBL since I was 14 years-old. After half a season of CBL, I was ready to play national league. I always wanted to play at the highest level and the NBL provides me with an opportunity to play against the best players across the country..
What was your first impression of the NBL? How has that changed?
My first impression is that I didn’t realise how big basketball was across England and the different playing styles that exist. From playing Division One you realise most teams are talented but it’s the attention to detail which really separates the good teams, and you can’t just turn up and beat teams you’ve got to prepare properly.
What was your biggest challenge?
One of my biggest challenges has been this season where we’ve lost a lot of close games and games we thought we should’ve won. It’s been hard as we lost a lot of players last year and had to integrate a lot of new pieces. But in the second half of the season we’ve made changes and seen improvements, so regardless of the situation you learn from all experiences and learn to adapt.
What changes have you noticed in yourself since joining the NBL?
My biggest change has been my IQ, my understanding of the game and learning to play smart. Also, especially in Division One, players are a lot stronger so I’ve put a lot of time in the gym to get stronger so I can compete with them.
What are you working on right now, what are your current goals?
Currently right now as it’s near the end of the season, I’m focused on the team and doing whatever it takes to help us win. But once the season is finished, I’ll be focused more on my personal goals and developing my game by adding new skills and further improving on my strengths.
What is your favourite NBL memory?
My favourite memory was my last year of U18's when we went undefeated and won the double; the cup and the league. Not many players can say they went undefeated for a whole season. In terms of Newcastle Knights, my first season when we won the Patrons Cup and achieved promotion to Division One. The season had its ups and downs but we set out goals from the beginning and we were able to reach them. We all worked very hard and it’s good to end the season on a high.
What advice would you give someone who is just getting started in basketball?
Listen and trust your coaches. But at the same time be confident, believe in yourself and enjoy the game.
What do you like to do outside of basketball?
Outside of basketball I’m a University student studying economics and business. I like to spend time with family and friends.
Finally, who is your favourite British basketball player and why?
There’s no one player in particular. It would have be the teammates that I’ve played with over the years. I’ve learnt a lot from training with/ against them which has helped me push myself. All the success that I have achieved has been with them so I’m grateful for everyone that I’ve played with.
You can follow Alei's progress this weekend when Newcastle takeover the NBL Instagram story!