Bottom of The BBL with a 0 -19 record, knocked out of The BBL Cup at the first time of asking and then losing in the 1st round of The BBL Trophy to Worthing Thunder and EBL side one league below who also hadn't won a game all season.
You'd be forgiven if you thought that there was not much joy to be had at Mersey Tigers these days. Less than two seasons after dominating the BBL scene the Liverpool based side have struggled along in the last couple of seasons barely surviving, but surviving they are and they're still in there fighting.
And there is some light for The Tigers in the shape and form of 22-year old Belgian, Gael Hulsen (193-G/F-90, agency: LBM Management). The 6' 4" shooting guard has been one of the few successes in Mersey's troubled season and he currently averages 11.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as well as shooting almost 40% from beyond the arc.
Having played for Belgium's under-16 and under-20's team and spending time learning his sport in his homeland the affable swingman got the opportunity to play abroad in The BBL this season and decided to take that opportunity. Life has been tough as he aims to make his way in the basketball world but despite the tough season he remains upbeat about the future.
Eurobasket caught up with Hulsen after his sides loss at the home of The BBL Champions Newcastle Eagles and started by asking him his thoughts on the game which ended 121 - 58 in favour of the home side with Hulsen top scoring for The Tigers with 17 points.
"It was a very bad night. This game was very complicated for us. We came with only seven players and our coach wasn't there either. It was not a good situation to go in to the game in. Newcastle are a very good team they had obviously prepared for the game well. Their defence was not what we are used to, they have put a lot of work in to their defence its easy to see that. They were too well prepared for us and we were not ready for them and it showed during the game."
Despite the result and his feelings, Hulsen was one of the few Tigers that did impress as he kept going for the full 40 minutes and added another double-figure night to his resume. So, despite the results he's still managing to put up some decent numbers in The BBL.
"I think I'm making a good job of my first year in The BBL despite the teams results. I think that I give my best every day that I can to be at the top level that I can. I think its a very good league and its a big opportunity for me to show my level. I think I'm on the good way and just need to continue to work hard to get to the best level I can."
"Tonight it was very difficult as immediately the game started Newcastle made a lot of shots and our heads went down a bit. Its very hard to keep going as we are very young and less mature and experienced as other teams so its difficult at times to keep our heads up and work till the end."
"I just try my best to be at my top level all of the time on and off court and I try to push the others but sometimes that's very difficult. We need to keep working. This is a five-year project from my team, we are trying to build something so we have to keep working. We don't need to think about now we need to think about the future, we need to be patient and we need to work more than everybody else."
Positive words from a young man that is not in the most positive of situations and a great credit to Hulsen that he can think that way and remain upbeat. So, how did Hulsen end up at Mersey?
"There was contact to me from the coach who knew me. We talked through the summer and then he proposed that I come across for a trial. I didn't even get to the end of the practise game and the coach called me across and said he was satisfied with what he saw and offered me a job."
"He told the players that I was our new player and I was immediately accepted by all the players. I have a lot of respect for them and they have a lot of respect for me. The fans seem to like me as well as I have a lot of support from them. I feel good with the Mersey Tigers, just trying to get a win and work hard. I'm excited to be with this group and they are very kind and good towards me."
So, what is Hulsen hoping for in the remaining weeks of the season?
"For sure I want to get a win. All the players want to get a win. When you play professional sport you have to try and be competitive all the time. We will try to get a win but we need to work hard and keep our heads up no matter what happens."
"I don't really know what the future holds. I want to continue to do the best job I can this season and the coach has already told me that they think they'd like to sign me for another year. I don't know yet as there may be other teams that might offer me something. I need to talk with my agent and look at the positive things as well as the negative things and consider all parts so I don't really know yet."
"The BBL is a very good league so I think if I can make a good job in the BBL then people can get a view of me and it would be good if I could stay in the BBL so I'll continue to work hard, give my best and hope to stay in the BBL."
Hulsen appears a very level-headed, intelligent young man with the operative word being young. With his attitude, team ethic and hard working commitment he can only get better and there's no doubting thats what he's aiming to do. Look out for him in the future as he has the drive and energy to make it in this sport.
Stella Artois Leuven Bears (Scooore League) strengthened their roster with addition of 25-year old American power forward Jon Horford (208-113kg-91, college: Florida). He played most recently at Canton Charge (D-League) in the U.S. In 35 games he recorded 4.5ppg and 6.8rpg last season. Horford helped them to end the regular season as a second best team in Central Division. They also advanced to the league semifinals. He was called during the season by the Milwaukee Bucks. Horford has trie... [read more]
Stella Artois Leuven Bears (Scooore League) strengthened their roster with addition of 25-year old American power forward Jon Horford (208-113kg-91, college: Florida). He played most recently at Canton Charge (D-League) in the U.S. In 35 games he recorded 4.5ppg and 6.8rpg last season. Horford helped them to end the regular season as a second best team in Central Division. They also advanced to the league semifinals. He was called during the season by the Milwaukee Bucks. Horford has tried to make it to the NBA and played in the NBA Pro Summer League in 2015. His team won Big Ten Regular Season in 2014. Horford has played previously professionally in Dominican Rep. and Dominican Republic (Indios de San Francisco). He attended University of Florida until 2015 and it will be his second season in pro basketball.
Three teams involved in the next Basketball Champions League (BCL) and hosting squad Basic-Fit Brussels with their four new recruits Chris Dowe (193-G/F-91, college: Bellarmine), Jeremy Jeremy Simmons (204-F-89, college: Charleston), Chavaughn Lewis (196-G/F-93, college: Marist) and Augustas Augustas Peciukevicius (192-G-91) will participate in the Brussels European Tournament 2016 to be held at Complexe sportif in Neder-Over-Heembeek on Sep. 14th and 15th. Scooore! League 2016 title owni... [read more]
It should be a nice occasion for Belgian basketball fans to attend high-level basketball games at the Complexe sportif in Neder-over-Heembeek, in the Brussels area. Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt will most probably come to the Belgian capital with their new German center Daniel Mayr (217-C-95), arriving from Bayern Munich, and their Canadian guard Philip Scrubb (190-G-92), who previously played for AEK Athens. KK Cibona VIP Zagreb, the club of former superstar Drazen Petrovic and many other Yugoslav legends like Kresimir Cosic or Danko Cvjeticanin, should also come to Brussels with an impressive roster, including Zagreb-born Zeljko Sakic (204-F-88, agency: BeoBasket) who just returns from Rio where he played for Croatia in the Olympics as well as Emir Sulejmanovic (204-F/C-95) who has been included on the Bosnia and Herzegovina senior national team this summer.
Rilski inks Kelvin Parker, ex Verviers-Pep. - 15 hours ago
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Rilski Sportist Samokov (NBL) signed experienced 34-year old American point guard Kelvin Parker (184-85kg-82, college: Northwest Missouri State). He played last season at VOO Wolves Verviers-Pepinster in Belgian Top Division II, but left the team in Apr.'16. In 12 games he had 14.5ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.9apg and 1.1spg. The most of previous (2014-15) season Parker spent at Inter Bratislava in SBL where in 14 games he recorded 12.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.9apg and 2.2spg. He helped them to make it to the se... [read more]
Rilski Sportist Samokov (NBL) signed experienced 34-year old American point guard Kelvin Parker (184-85kg-82, college: Northwest Missouri State). He played last season at VOO Wolves Verviers-Pepinster in Belgian Top Division II, but left the team in Apr.'16. In 12 games he had 14.5ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.9apg and 1.1spg. The most of previous (2014-15) season Parker spent at Inter Bratislava in SBL where in 14 games he recorded 12.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.9apg and 2.2spg. He helped them to make it to the semifinals. A very impressive season as he was named to Eurobasket.com All-Slovakian League Honorable Mention. Parker also played that season for Al Jaysh (D1) in Qatari league. In 14 games he averaged 12.5ppg, 2.8rpg and 4.9apg. Parker is quite experienced player. He has played in six different countries on three different continents (Europe, Asia and of course North America). Parker has played previously professionally in Austria (Redwell Gunners Oberwart), Germany (Bayern Muenchen and Dragons Rhoendorf), Italy (Lighthouse Conad Trapani), Switzerland (Monthey and Geneve Lions), Norway (Asker Aliens) and PBL (Vermont FH). He attended Northwest Missouri State until 2004 and it will be his 13th (hopefully lucky) (!!!) season as a professional player. Parker could be described:
Physical & Mental: Very quick with good reflexes.
Ball Skills: Strong with the ball... Penetrates aggressively... Runs the floor well.
Offense: Good offensive player... Good shooter from range... Moves well without the ball... Sees the floor well.
Defense: Very good anticipation... Quick hands and feet... Reads the defensive floor well.
Game Knowledge: Will earn a coach's trust with his court vision on both ends of the floor.
Strengths: Effective when he blends in with a team set, as well as when he is asked to create on his own.
Opportunities for Improvement: Needs to continue to work on finishing off penetration.
Overall Comments: Needs to develop more of his game.
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