Blast from the Past: Steve Dagostino

Number 1: Dagostino with the BBL Cup in 2011. Image: Rob McPherson

MVP: Dagostino with the BBL Cup in 2011.(Image: Rob

Steve Dagostino describes his time with the Sheffield Sharks as ‘one of the greatest experiences in his professional career’ and the point guard will be most remembered for his scintillating display in the 2011 BBL Cup Final.

“For me the CUP was amazing.  As a team we couldn’t have played a better game and my confidence was sky high that day,” admitted Dagostino, who poured in 35 points on 8-10 shooting from downtown to earn the MVP award.

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Coach Steutel filled with pride after special achievement

Marc of a champion (Credit: Dave More)

Marc of a champion (Credit: Dave More)

Marc Steutel has described GB’s recent promotion to Division A as one of the ‘proudest basketball moments of his career’ as he now prepares for another season with Team Northumbria.

“It’s quite difficult to really put into words how special it was”

The under-20’s side won their first seven matches at the European Championships before falling short in the Final against Poland, a team they had beaten earlier in the tournament. GB will now compete in Division A at under-20 level for the first time, which is a remarkable achievement to underline their progression.

“It really is amazing to be a part of something that is great for the future of British Basketball,” added Steutel, who was the performance analyst/assistant coach in Romania.

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Owumi reflects on first season with Worcester

Alex Owumi has agreed to extend his spell in the BBL after his return to Worcester Wolves was announced for the 2013-14 season.

The news will provide an early boost for Paul James and Wolves fans alike after seeing Owumi light up the league in his first season in the BBL. The 29 year-old finished the season as the 2nd highest points scorer in the league with 688 at an average of 19.7 points per game. Continue reading

Chapman revelling in new role and now wants Play-offs glory

Joe Chapman has always been the go to man for the Newcastle Eagles, but now the reigning MVP is more than happy to be creating chances for his team-mates after taking on a new role this season.

“I’ve had to be more of a leader and assist and it’s been great making others better. It was challenging learning a new role, but it was fun at the same time!” the 28 year-old admitted.

The adjustment has certainly not restricted Chapman’s scoring prowess. Just ask Newcastle’s play-off opponents, Sheffield. They were on the receiving end of an incredible 41 point display back in January after the Eagle shot 10-16 from 3-point range. Probably the best example of how productive the new role has been, was Chapman’s triple-double – a rare sight in the BBL – after an impressive stat-line of 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Durham.

Chapman finished the regular season with 489 points at an average of 15.3 points per game, behind Charles Smith (21.2) and Darius Defoe (15.7) in the team scoring charts, while BBL rookies Kareem Maddox (15.1) and Damon Huffman (14.7) both also averaged 10+ ppg. As well as being a reliable and consistent scorer, Chapman dished out 176 assists at an average of 5.5, bettered only by Surrey Heat’s Chavis Holmes.

The American guard was given a well earned rest in Newcastle’s final league game and the Eagles will hope their star man will return ‘fully charged’ ahead of their play-off clash with Sheffield this weekend. The defending BBL Play-Off champions have been plagued with injuries throughout the season, but Chapman has stepped up for his team, competing in over 1,000 minutes on court.

Looking ahead to the battle with the Sharks, Chapman is expecting a tough game and insists his side have to improve on their home form if they are to progress.

“Sheffield are a good team in great form at the moment so it’s important we play with a sense of urgency and play well at home on Friday which is something we haven’t done all year.”

Newcastle had a poor run of games at Sport Central in February and March when Cheshire, Surrey and Plymouth inflicted three straight home defeats on Fab Flournoy’s men. Sheffield lost in their only visit to Tyneside in January but will return full of confidence following a rewarding transformation having began their campaing with just two wins in their opening 10 league games.

Atiba Lyons was awarded the coach of the month award for March after leading his side to the BBL Trophy title and sealing a play-off spot before finishing the season with a 17-16 record. The Sharks claimed an 80-70 victory against the Eagles last week in a play-off dress rehearsal and also bolster two former Eagles, Andrew Bridge and Olu Babalola amongst their ranks, who will know full well what response to expect from the Eagles come crunch time.

“They play with a lot of energy and we have to match that! They also have a few players that have played for our organisation so they know our plays pretty well and it will come down to our energy,” added Chapman.

Since 2005, Newcastle have won 17 titles including the play-offs on five occasions but failed to win anything in 2010-11 and will want to avoid a repeat this season. Chapman feels it is unfair to compare last year’s achievement of the clean sweep with this year and praised his side for their efforts in a tough campaign.

“We have a few new guys who have never been champions before so going 26-8 is great. With injuries and only playing 11 games together as a whole unit, I think we did pretty well.”

Darius Defoe and Anthony Martin were the only two players to feature in every game with Smith, Huffman, Maddox and Flournoy all missing several games due to injury while Chapman was rested against Leicester on Sunday.

Leicester Riders completed the clean sweep over Newcastle with a win on the final day and were also victorious in their battle with the Eagles to win the BBL Cup. Rob Paternostro’s men completed the season with a perfect 17-0 home record whilst winning 30 games in total. Chapman acknowledged their achievements and gave his verdict on who he feels should be given the BBL League MVP award.

“Leicester has had a great season and what I like about them, is they share the ball and play great defence. Their whole team deserves MVP recognition because I believe team success brings individual success but there can only be one so I’d give MVP to either Drew Sullivan or Jay (Couisnard) because they have both played great in big games.”

Chapman also paid tribute to his 37 year-old team-mate Smith, who he described as still being one of the best in the league whilst recognising Alex Owumi’s great season in Worcester.

Do you agree with Joe Chapman’s verdict, who would get your vote for MVP?

And will the Eagles, as Chapman desires, be the last team standing with the Play-Offs trophy aloft at Wembley Arena on April 28th?

Hulsen working hard to inspire Tigers’ first win

Hulsen drives to the basket. Image courtesy of ©

Hulsen drives to the basket. Image courtesy of ©

Gael Hulsen is targeting a first win with the Mersey Tigers as they look to avoid an unwanted record in completing a season without victory.

The 22 year-old admits being in a ‘really difficult’ situation but is refusing to let the run of defeats get him down and is determined to lead his side to success.

“I can’t let my head down and stop working (just) because we lose! I give my best everyday at the gym and on the basketball court to help my team as much as I can,” Hulsen declared.

Two seasons ago, the Tigers were led to three trophies by Tony Garbelotto but are now a shadow of that treble winning side as they are rooted to the bottom of the league with a 0-24 record. However, Hulsen is confident Mersey are not too far away from getting a win under their belts although they lack consistency.

“We are a young side but we don’t need too many more things to get a win. We have many good sequences but many bad too and we need to play at a high level from the first second ’til the last,” added the under-23 Belgian international.

In his first season outside of his native Belgium, Hulsen has been impressed by the standard of the BBL insitsting it’s a ‘pleasure to play in a competitive league with many great players’. Having had limited roles with previous teams, Hulsen has taken on a lot of responsibility with the Tigers and was able to make an immediate impact on Merseyside following a warm welcome:

“When I arrived in Liverpool, I was immediately relaxed because the people were really nice and helpful.”

A 22 point display in his first game against Cheshire was a promising start to life in England as the Belgian was able to settle in quickly. Since his impressive debut, Hulsen has been a consistent threat for the Tigers and feels that this has made him a target that opponents look to contain.

“I think I’ve made good performances during this season but sometimes it’s difficult to score because I’m one of the threats on the team,” said Hulsen.

“The other coaches prepare their game to try and stop the different threats of the team.”

The versatile swingman repeated his 22 point feat against Glasgow Rocks in December when he recorded a season-best mark of 4-7 from 3-point range. Hulsen has scored 270 points in 23 league appearances so far at an average of 11.7 points per game whilst providing his team-mates with 3.3 assists per game.

Once the season finishes Hulsen is hoping to play during the summer and has cited Australia and New Zealand as possible destinations. As for next season, the youngster is undecided as it stands as to whether he will re-join the Tigers but says that coach Tony Walsh has been in contact about his future.

“I don’t know yet, we’ve talked with the coach and he’s ready to work another season with me but maybe another proposition will arrive and I will take the most interesting,” Hulsen admitted.

In recent weeks, Nathan Schall and Phil Wait have been snapped up from BBL opposition in order to add some experience to a youthful squad. Mersey‘s quest for a first win doesn’t get any easier next week as they take on the defending champions Newcastle Eagles at the Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park on Friday.

You can follow Gael Hulsen on Twitter: @HulsenGael