This season sees the GBA “redraft” our division one teams; this process allows us to reinvigorate experienced players by pitting them with new team mates and coaches, as well as seeing a large number of Island junior players integrated into the new teams.
Le Mont Saint’s core has remained however it now includes a new point guard in Matt Sawbridge and Guernsey forward Dan Marriott. This season also sees Max Hunter take over the coaching role for LMS, bringing with him his former Junior captain Jason Hull and current under-21 Island players Dettory King and Elliott Robert. This is an extremely experienced team, and having had the least changes to their core, look to see them hit the ground running in the first game of the season.
Skipton sees the reigning MVP, island captain and island coach combine this season. Farish will be looking to make the most of the shooting prowess his team possesses with Hooper and Hamon, combining with the strong rebounding from Nico Robinson and Tom Creed. Skipton pose a strong offensive threat, especially from behind the three point arc which will be a focal point for their play this season.
Mayside have likely strengthened the most, combining experienced Island players Ashly Ward and Agris Dulbinskis, with Andrejs Vaganovs and Coach Pat Ogier. Together with this strong core, Mayside boast Island junior starters Louis Hunter and George Thomas and veterans such as Paul Wilkes and Jim Rowe. This team will almost certainly be organised from start to finish, and look to dominate games while playing a mixed brand of patient but offensively minded basketball.
Last but not least, we have the reigning champions Falcons. New coach, Jeff Stuart, steps into his player-coach role with the team picking up a new point guard in Island veteran Paul van Beek, combining his speed and intensity with the pure size of Sam Simon, Shek Sesay; and the deadeye shooting of Tim “Microwave” Halden. Falcons also have strong bench support with promising juniors Toby Mellor, Aiden Vaudin, Luke Corbin and Lucas Ozanne, together with division one stalwarts Andy Stephens, Jamie Roussel and James Alderton. Although missing the scoring of last season’s MVP Jason Hooper, Falcons are experienced, well-balanced and have deep bench making them strong contenders.
Le Mont Saint - Dan Marriott, Michael Beausire, Jason Hull, Neil Davey, Matt Sawbridge, James Tracey, Dave Sauvarin, Jake Duquemin, Dettory King, Elliott Robert, Henry Pang, Pete Beausire, Coach: Max Hunter
Skipton - Aaron Walden, Adam Farish, Alex Vaudin, Dave Wilson, Jan Renouf, Jason Hooper, Kaine Hyde, Max Hamon, Nico Robinson, Tom Creed, Coach: Adam Farish
Mayside - Andrejs Vaganovs, Dolton King, George Thomas, Sam Norris, Ben Colley, Louis Hunter, Ashly Ward, Ryan Kampmann, Agris Dulbinskis, Jim Rowe, Paul Wilkes, Josh Hamon, Coach: Pat Ogier
Falcons - Sam Simon, Shek Sesay, Paul van Beek, Jeff Stuart, Andy Stephens, Tim Halden, James Alderton, Aiden Vaudin, Toby Mellor, Luke Corbin, Jamie Roussel, Lucas Ozanne, Coach: Jeff Stuart
After a successful Island trip to Gotland, winning bronze, it’s time for the island women to return to their respective clubs and compete in what’s sure to be another close-run season. Back to back reigning league winners Sparks, now sponsored by Ravenscroft, will look to repeat once more, this time with Tim Halden as coach. He replaces Max Hunter who moves aside to focus on his Division 1 challenge. Comets finished last season very strongly, with Dan Marriott’s side winning the knockout trophy for the second season running. Big performances from Eleisha Gettings and Kerri Brown will be required once more if they look to go for more trophies with Gemma Batiste leading the scoring from the post. More coaching changes, sees Matt Sawbridge take over the Le Mont Saint Storm, with their team remaining the same, with their relentless competitive drive intact, fuelled by Verona Tomlin and Emma Webb. Robin Smith looks to continue the fantastic development of his Nerine side, now boasting three Island Games competitors in their ranks; they’re a force to be reckoned with and will hope to land more victories this season. The final new coaching appointment sees Jamie Roussel take full leadership of Tigers, he had coached them multiple times recently, and now looks to impart some of his experience onto his side.
With lots of new changes within the women’s league, it will look to be even closer run than in the last few seasons.
Arguably the tightest division to call this season, with players both new and old entering the fray. Reigning league and knockout winners LMS Used remain strong. Led by MVP Jeff Stuart, his band of merry men looks to secure a third consecutive title. Cranfords pick up the core squad of last year’s MUG team, adding Antony Safari and Andy Yabsley to strengthen their ranks. Giants 1 and Giants 2 will feature the same players but perhaps in two new look teams in order to balance the ability and experience; however this shouldn’t detract from their ability to challenge the league leaders. Geomarine continue to boast a wealth of talent but the key for them will be to remain consistent and learn how to play as a unit for a full forty minutes. If they do, they will certainly be in with a shout. Skillz have lost Alex Vaudin to Giants to play alongside Brother Luke and Dad Jai and while that leaves a gap in the Skillz scoring, there is an opportunity for a number of the junior players to step up and bridge that gap. Matt Skillett has done a great job with this team and leads by example in every game they play. The caused a few upsets last season and could certainly cause a few during this campaign with their high energy style of play. Mavericks are the last of the official league teams who are now coached by Leigh Blampied. They have a strong and experienced core but have now added some youth and depth to their bench which should help them in the latter stages of games. The Under 17 and Under 21 squads each have 5 friendly fixtures and will compete in the KO as they prepare for their respective Inter-Insular which will provide good experience in a competitive match scenario. It should be another close season in Division 2 with all teams capable of beating each other on their day.