A basketball academy from Spain will try to make its mark in Britain, as CBA (Canarias Basketball Academy) will square-off against three BBL sides and one EBL side in four days.
The CBA will take on the Plymouth Raiders on the 23rd November, then travel to Worthing to face the Thunder on the 24th, go across to Surrey to face the Guildford Heat on the 25th and finally up north, where they wrap-up their tour, against EBL Division One joint leaders, Leeds Carnegie on the 26th.
CBA’s Chris Mayes, a former assistant coach at Worcester Wolves and Worthing Thunder (when they were in the EBL) is thrilled at the upcoming challenges.
“I’m really looking forward to it since it’s going to be a real challenge for our players to play the physical and fast paced basketball that BBL teams have to offer. We are always looking to provide our players with the toughest competition possible.” Mayes commented.
“We have already been on some great tours this season to Barcelona and Tenerife where we have beaten LEB Silver, EBA and ACB development teams. So we are really looking forward to testing ourselves against full time professionals.”
Mayes knows how the systems work in both the EBL and BBL, through coaching at Worcester and Worthing and admits that he was surprised he was able to get the games he wanted, while both EBL and BBL seasons are in progress.
“When I was planning the tour, I was really happy with the response I got from a lot of teams in the BBL and EBL but obviously because of fixture commitments and lack of venues we have had to restrict it to 4 games,” Mayes said.
“Unfortunately we can’t get a seated venue for the Worthing and Guildford games but tickets are on sale for the games against Plymouth and Leeds. Nevertheless, it’s a great start as we are looking to make this a regular tour for the Academy as the standard just keeps on getting better and better each year.”
“This is the best year yet at CBA. We have 45 hard working guys (18 from the UK) that battle through the tough program which can consist of five sessions a day. You learn very quickly that the players here really do get nothing but a strict diet of skills and discipline and players from all over Europe come to get the coaching, facilities, experience and playing time they simply couldn’t dream of back home.”
Life is tough in terms of the schedule and workload but for Mayes, life is sweet with a great working environment and continuing to learn his own trade alongside some of the best coaching talent around.
“For me, it’s not just the 300 days of sunshine that is the major plus, it is great to wake up everyday and not have to worry about things like lack of facilities etc… Here we are able to provide over thirty plus hours practice time a week to these guys from Sunday to Friday, and not have to listen to people complain that the basketballs are making to much noise and disturbing our badminton game,” Mayes explained.
“The coaching staff is great here to. Working for head coach and director Rob Orellana is a completely different experience; I have never worked for a guy that has so much passion and drive for the development of these players here. He makes you feel and believe that you are part of something unique. It’s like you are part of a family here and because of that, it provides an extremely competitive and successful environment.”
Orellana is a highly regarded coach, with 15 years experience coaching at NCAA Division one level – and prepared and developed Great Britain star, Joel Freeland.
“He is regarded as one of the premier figures in basketball and in terms of skill and performance training; he has developed one of the most complete and effective all-around basketball training methods I have ever experienced.
Mayes continued: “Furthermore, CBA is a great place to provide the exposure for British players that they simply wouldn’t get at home.”
Within the last three years the academy has provided 14 British players with full NCAA Division one scholarships. These players include:
Ashley Hamilton (Loyola Marymount)
Phil Wait (St. Johns – Monmouth College)
Sam Fernley (Fairleigh Dickenson)
Richard Clarke (St. Francis College (NY))
Tom Ward (St. Francis College (NY) – Michael´s College)
Fahro Alihodzic (Fordham University)
Meneilk Watson (Marist)
Ben Daniels (Houston Baptist University)
Jason Beharie (Morehead)
Tom Pereira (Rider)
Daniel James (Monmouth University)
Aaron Geramipoor (Seton Hall)
Danny Thompson (Fordham University)
Abdi Ahmed (University of Oklahoma)
Many more have also obtained Division two and NAIA Scholarships with Mayes and his colleagues keen to highlight the benefits of players looking to the Academy.
“We are aiming for at least 20 players this season to obtain NCAA1 scholarships, which in the times of University top up fees going through the roof, I really do believe that its an extremely worth wild investment to provide you with realistic opportunities not just in basketball, but education as well which are hard to come by at home.
“With the excellent coaching, training and living facilitates I would strongly recommend CBA to all serious players that are willing to take the next step in their basketball development.
“During the tour I encourage anyone that is interested in joining the academy to come down to any one of the four venues to meet the players and coaching staff and find out what CBA can do for you,” Mayes concluded.
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net