Academy Basketballers aiming high in European finals

Myerscough Basketball Academy has reached the finals of a major European tournament.

Just two days ago, they were crowned Elite Academy Basketball League North Conference Champions for 2022/23 – and now, they have a European final in their sights.

Assistant coach Mike Bernard has helped guide the team to the European Youth Basketball League (EYBL) and he spoke of his pride for his players following their midweek success.

“Across the board, all the guys have been working really hard leading up to this situation now where we’re winding down to the end of the season,” he said.  

“It’s very rewarding, obviously it shows credit to what the guys have done and they’ve paid attention to what us as coaching staff have said, they just go out and execute what we’ve asked them to do.

“It’s very rewarding to know everything we say and do is paying off.”

Myerscough celebrate winning the Elite Academy Basketball League North Conference.

Having last taken part in the tournament in 2020 and winning, before the COVID pandemic, the college hasn’t had chance to defend their title until now.

Bernard sees this final as an opportunity to make up for lost time over the last couple of years and to defend their title of 2020.

He added: “The European Championship is a big success for the academy itself because we’re going on the back of being defending champions pre-Covid, and not being able to go through Covid.

“When everything opened up, the college still had their policies about not letting us go again, so I believe we missed two stages of it.

“Currently in our minds, we’re still defending champions. It’s going to be a big deal for us to go in there and finish off what we actually started a couple of years ago.”

A former professional himself, Bernard, who is now the assistant coach for the EYBL team, is returning to his former stomping ground for the final.

Mike Bernard in action for Levice.

The 44-year-old represented Levice in Slovakia as a player and helped guide them to a Championship during his time there, and he believes his players can benefit from visiting his former side.

“It’s being held in my old gym, so that’ll be a nice homecoming for me and for them to witness what I’ve been doing,” Bernard continued.

“There’ll be a lot of people there watching because the town is small and they like their basketball. The level of respect those smaller countries have for their sports and the athletes who play for their cities and towns (is huge).

Mike Bernard

“They’re going to see how I was treated and when I get there, they’ll see how I’m still treated 11 years later because I was committed to playing for their team and I was there to help them win a Championship.”

The EYBL tournament takes places in April and is held over three weekends, with teams playing five games across each stage.