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.
Earl Brown (ex Keflavik) is a newcomer at Cheshire Phoenix - 5 hours ago
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Cheshire Phoenix (BBL) strengthened their roster with addition of 24-year old American forward Earl Brown (198-93kg-92, college: St.Francis, PA). He played most recently at Keflavik in Icelandic Dominos League. In 15 games he was fifth best scorer with impressive 25.4ppg and had 12.1rpg (#2 in the league), 2.7apg, 1.0spg and 1.7bpg last season. Brown helped them to make it to the Icelandic Cup Semifinals. Great season indeed as he was voted to Eurobasket.com Icelandic League All-Imports T... [read more]
Cheshire Phoenix (BBL) strengthened their roster with addition of 24-year old American forward Earl Brown (198-93kg-92, college: St.Francis, PA). He played most recently at Keflavik in Icelandic Dominos League. In 15 games he was fifth best scorer with impressive 25.4ppg and had 12.1rpg (#2 in the league), 2.7apg, 1.0spg and 1.7bpg last season. Brown helped them to make it to the Icelandic Cup Semifinals. Great season indeed as he was voted to Eurobasket.com Icelandic League All-Imports Team and Honorable Mention. Among other achievements his team made it to the NEC Tournament Semifinals in 2015. Brown received also All-NEC Most Improved Player of the Year award back in 2013 at his college time. Brown graduated from St.Francis University (PA) in 2015 and it will be his second season in pro basketball.
San Pablo Inmobiliaria Miraflores Burgos (LEB Gold) landed 20-year old British international guard Jules Akodo (188-85kg-96). He played most recently at LTH Castings in Slovenian Liga Nova KBM. In 27 games he averaged 8.6ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg and 1.3spg last season. Akodo received also Eurobasket.com All-European Championships U20 Division B Honorable Mention award in 2016. The previous (14-15) season Akodo played at Fraport Skyliners II in ProB where in 15 games he had 11.4ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.4... [read more]
San Pablo Inmobiliaria Miraflores Burgos (LEB Gold) landed 20-year old British international guard Jules Akodo (188-85kg-96). He played most recently at LTH Castings in Slovenian Liga Nova KBM. In 27 games he averaged 8.6ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg and 1.3spg last season. Akodo received also Eurobasket.com All-European Championships U20 Division B Honorable Mention award in 2016. The previous (14-15) season Akodo played at Fraport Skyliners II in ProB where in 15 games he had 11.4ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.4apg and 1.3spg. He played in the final of Slovenian U18 Championships in 2013. He also represented United Kingdom at the European Championships U20 Division B in Chalkida (Greece) this year. His stats at that event were 8 games: 10.1ppg, 5.4rpg, Assists-3 (4.9apg), Steals-1 (3.6spg), FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 17.1%, FT: 72.2%. Akodo has played also professionally in Slovenia for Un.Olimpija. Let's have closer look into His outlook:
Has a great body and athletic skills for a point guard. He can drive to the lane and plays tough defense. He needs to work onn his outside shooting because he struggles a bit now, if left open from the distance.
San Pablo Inmobiliaria Miraflores Burgos roster for 2016-2017:
Essex Leopards London (NBL D1) confirmed in their roster guard Brian Nguru (180). He played there last season. In 19 NBL D1 games he had 5.6ppg and 1.1apg. Nguru previously for Westminster Warriors. Essex Leopards London roster for 2016-2017: Guards: Brian Nguru Douglas Bennett Forwards: Justin Hitchman Jamie Hayes Coach: Steve Ogunjimi By Eurobasket Data Center Check also Complete Transfers List in United Kingdom [read more]
Essex Leopards London (NBL D1) confirmed in their roster guard Brian Nguru (180). He played there last season. In 19 NBL D1 games he had 5.6ppg and 1.1apg. Nguru previously for Westminster Warriors.
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