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

In the Spotlight: Kyrie Irving

NBA Rookie to NBA All-Star in the space of a season.

At just 20 years of age, Kyrie Irving has been selected as an NBA All-Star in his second season as a pro.

Irving has now been touted as a possible starter following an injury to Rajon Rondo which will rule the Boston Celtics’ guard out for the season. Kobe Bryant was a year younger when he made his NBA All-Star debut in 1998 which shows how impressive Irving’s achievement is.

The Cavs’ guard is building his reputation as ‘Mr. Fourth Quarter’ as he continues to take the responsibility of key shots down the stretch. Most recently Irving scored 13 points of 35 in the last three minutes to inspire Cleveland to a 115-110 victory against Oklahoma.

On 10 occasions so far this season, Irving has posted 30+ points in a game including a career high night in New York when he dropped 41 on the Knicks. These notable statistics help place the young superstar in sixth position for the season’s leading scorers charts with 24ppg. Irving was forced out for three weeks with a finger injury prior to Christmas but has picked up where he left off in recent weeks.

In his first season in the NBA, Irving finished the season with a very respectable points average of 18.5 whilst providing 5.4 assists a game on average. He also earned the MVP honours in the Rising Stars Challenge in which he will compete in again in 2013. Irving‘s rookie season was marred with a broken hand which required during the summer of 2012

The #1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft was named NBA Rookie of the Year for 2012 to follow in the footsteps of reigning MVP Lebron James, who also claimed the award in 2004 when he was playing in Cleveland. Since Lebron’s high profile departure, Cleveland have yet to reach the play-offs and will do very well to stop it from being three years in a row. The Cavs had made it beyond the regular season for five straight seasons during James‘ time with the club under Mike Brown.

LBJ moved to Miami and became an NBA Champion within two years and there will be plenty of teams interested in the services of Irving should the opportunity present itself in the future. Surely it’s a case of when and not if with Irving displaying signs of being a potential MVP within five years.

You can follow Kyrie Irving on Twitter: ( @KyrieIrving )