Lions target three ‘crucial’ signings

MKLionsvEssex'MK Lions v Essex Pirates in their first match in Middleton Hall, thecentre:mk.''MPMC  WK02  M10
MKLionsvEssex'MK Lions v Essex Pirates in their first match in Middleton Hall, thecentre:mk.''MPMC WK02 M10

LIONS chief executive Vince Macaulay has revealed that he and head coach Mike New are desperate to re-sign at least three of last year’s squad.

Despite missing out on the British Basketball League play-offs following an extremely disappointing 10th place finish, Macaulay thinks it’s crucial that Lions get Travis Nelson, Demarius Bolds and Stefan Gill back on board for next season.

Macaulay and New had to sit and watch Championship winners Mersey Tigers see off Sheffield Sharks to retain their BBL play-off trophy, completing a superb treble for the north west side having already bagged the BBL Trophy.

The same next season simply won’t do for Macaulay though, as after giving New his backing to lead the team for a second season, he’s adamant that the former Lions player must produce the goods as head coach.

“We’ve targeted three of last season’s players who we’re looking to get back on board,” said Macaulay.

“But the fact is that we didn’t make the play-offs and doing that this season is the minimum requirement.”

Macaulay opted to give New a second chance at the helm after something of a hectic 12 months for the club. For the first time in several seasons Lions will go into the campaign safe in the knowledge that their long-term future appears to be healthy, as they look forward to their first full season in their Winterhill home.

Indeed the club have certainly made a home of their converted warehouse in the city centre and will be there for at least the next two seasons after signing a three year lease almost 12 months ago.

That came after a couple of months of uncertainty as to where the club would play its home games after being told that their previous venue of Middleton Hall in the centre:mk was no longer an option.

In fact Lions have had pretty awful luck when it comes to finding a home to call their own after being forced out of their long-term Bletchley Leisure Centre base the previous year.

Lions were forced to start last season playing home games at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, but now the dust has finally settled and he can focus his attention on recruiting quality players, Macaulay says all the upheaval was all worth it in the end.

“I’m almost glad the shopping centre said we could no longer play there any more and that Bletchley Leisure Centre was knocked down,” he said.

“Of course back then we had no other option but to make the best of Middleton Hall, but now we’re at home in Winterhill, I almost wish we’d done it years ago.”

Lions are currently in the process of finishing off the second playing court in their new den, and the club looks set to benefit from being able to house all its age group teams under one roof.

The club has a thriving junior set-up with four teams competing at National League level, enjoying plenty of success.

After trials the following youngsters have all been selected to play in one of Lions’ four junior sides.

U16s: Lewis Brook, Max Denham, Kamisi Fawehinmi, Ishmael George-Kacou, Malik Griffith-Johnson, Ellis Haggith, Vyncent King-Wellshaw, Thomas Kirkby, Liam Mullany, Michael New, Jake Noble, Kyle Perry, Callum Rodger, John Sydrick-Rodil, Lee Teivans, Dane Thomas, Jacob Vaas.

U15s: Guled Abdullaahi, Jamie Buckingham, Michael Czyzynski, Calum Jackson, Jayson Kibby, Khleo Komolafe, Chris Lane, Jordan McCarthy, Austin Mullany, Kyle Pryce, Adam Rolfe, Thomas Sharpe, Josh Yon, Omar Yusuf.

U14s: Jordon Becks, Charlie Bird, Ellis Brink, Nick Clay, Alfons De Witte, Jordan Edgell, Luke Gregory, David Issekya, Edwin Langley, Freddie Maxwell, Aiden McQuillan, Dylan Mistry, Alex Mould, Leon Page, Jayden Parker, Joseph Pollard, Mathias Read-Simpson, Khea Harsimran Singh, Victor Smith, Adam Sturge, Tarjhay Taylor, Aaron Thatcher, Zane Thorne, Mitchell Timmins.

U13s: Abraham Adoyi, Kadessi Alassani, Alex Becks, Cameron Caddy, Callum Charteris, Nick Collins, Leon Creary, Alfie Day, Harrison Dagley, Joe Faulkner, Pradeep Fernandez, Andrew Fletcher, Corey Gosling, Ben Jackson-Hamilton, Joe Mcgreal, Luke Millington, Harjot Singh, Dale Thatcher, Djabriel Verheer.

Congratulations to all the above who will no doubt be looking to follow in the footsteps of Connor Washington who featured for Lions’ first team last season after leading the Milton Keynes College Lions Team to success.

Basketball has seemingly never been so popular in the city, and the girls have been getting in on the act too. The Bucks Girls team features the best of the city’s young players and they recently travelled to Southampton where they recorded two wins over Hampshire.