Following the relationships made when they played each other in Malaga, the FIMBA Switzerland team invited the FIMBA GB Wolfpack to train and play with them over the weekend, as well as enjoy the social side of masters basketball on the banks of Lake Geneva.
Back Row: Steven Gayle, Aitor Estrada, Mark Woodhouse, Vadym Hulevatyi, John MacCauley, Adam Slater, Bruce Lauder, Coach Neil “Mac” McElduff
Front Row: Lee Barnes, Nic Chaviaris, Kevin Thomas, Jono Hart, Steve Ogunjimi
The Wolfpack jumped at such an amazing opportunity and even travelled with a supporting entourage of family and friends to make the most of the stunning Swiss surroundings. Coach Mac opened the weekend experience up for any squad members to attend, seeing GB debuts for John MacCauley, Kevin Thomas, Lee Barnes, Mark Woodhouse and Vadym Hulevatyi.
The weekend started at the impressive Salle omnisports du Pierrer in Montreux, for a friendly between the two +40 Men’s teams, and just as when they played in Malaga, the game was very physical and played at a high pace. With half of the GB team being new to the squad, this was the first competitive game the group has played together, so it was positive to see the game close throughout against such tough competition. Coach Mac used the opportunity to ensure everyone got some good playing minutes as he tried out different combinations and offensive sets. Despite the 67-57 loss, Coach Mac was pleased with what he saw:-
With key players still out injured, I wanted to ensure the whole squad got the opportunity to be part of the Wolfpack journey. Whilst we always want to win, I was impressed by how we played, especially considering we have so many new faces that have not had much court time together. We had a lot of fun with the Swiss socially in Malaga and made some great friendships so it was good to get back on our hoopsconnect mission and catch up with them again – they certainly know how to host a party and look after their guests!
Coach Mac – Head Coach, FIMBA GB +40 Wolfpack
Lunch followed after the game before a trip higher up into the alps to Blonay, where Coach Mac walked through the new offences with the squad, as well as some shooting drills.
The entertainment started early evening as the Swiss and GB teams returned to Montreux to attend the Swiss Basketball Cup semi-final, with a raucous home crowd supporting Vevey Riviera, and ex-NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, as they beat Union Neuchatal in a very entertaining match 75-60. The group then headed to dinner to meet up with some of the other Swiss age groups teams, where they were welcomed with a very loud reception. Throughout there were plenty of laughs and sing-alongs, from the Swiss version of the Music Man, to Neil Diamond and the Temptations.
An early morning start ensured the team were treated to stunning views including the sun reflecting off the Matterhorn as they headed back up into the Alps for a friendly scrimmage with a mix of the +40 and +45 Swiss teams. Again, the games were physical but played in great spirits with a lot of laughter throughout. After some fond farewells and gift exchanges for our amazing hosts, the team headed to Geneva for a bit of tourism before flying back home.
On behalf of FIMBA GB, I would like to extend sincere thanks to the FIMBA Switzerland organisation for their invitation; the FIMBA GB m40s Wolfpack squad had a fabulous on court and off experience. Thank you for extending the warmest of welcomes and the best hospitality which we are all so grateful for and will remember fondly for a very long time. You have truly embraced what it means to be part of the FIMBA basketball family and have been the very best of hosts. We look forward to continuing to forge a special friendship with our Swiss counterparts, and hope we can help in any way in the formation of representative Swiss women’s teams. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Maria Endacott-Heser – FIMBA GB Delegate
The FIMBA GB Wolfpack would like to extend their thanks to Pump Gyms for supporting their trip to Switzerland. To keep up to date with the Wolfpack journey to the Masters World Cup in Croatia, follow theoriginalgbmen on Instagram.