Scottish players in GB maxibasketball medal rush at the 2022 European Championship.
It was a successful 10 days for the eight GB Maxibasketball national teams at the 2022 XI FIMBA European Championship in MALAGA, as former Scottish national and international level players played an integral part in the five medal championship medal haul!
Nine Scots players – Jamie Rillay (M35+), Scott Russell (M40+), Elaine Montgomery (USA-based) and Shirley White (W45+), Stuart Mackay (M45+), Shirley Campbell and Ann Jamieson (W50+) Iain Maclean (M50+) and Frazer Birch (M50+) – all began their preparation for the Europeans in April 2021 following easing of the Covid pandemic restrictions in Scotland. Their hard work certainly paid dividends with five of the eight GB teams securing Championship medals, including Britain’s first ever gold and silver European maxibasketball medals.
Jamie Rillay, a late selection to the GB Maxis Men’s 35+ squad, bagged himself a silver medal as his team, led by Loughborough-based Head Coach Liam Jefferson, took on top-seeded Spanish ACB outfit Unicaja Malaga in the final game. Working against an aggressive defense, GB Maxis M35’s came up short and finished runners up, bringing home Great Britain’s first European Championship silver!
Speaking of the final game loss, Coach Jefferson said:
“Whilst it stings right now, a European silver medal is an unbelievable achievement, and I couldn’t be prouder of this group and what they have achieved!”
After an emotionally exhausting semi-final losses on Day 8, GB Maxis players, Scott Russell, Elaine Montgomery, Shirley White, had to pick themselves up to compete in the bronze medal game against Spanish sides, whilst GB Maxis’ 50+ players Ann Jamieson and Shirley Campbell faced a stacked German side (former World Maxiball Champions in 2019) in the battle for 3rd/4th place in the women’s 50+ competition
However, it was not to be as the valiant Great Britain teams eventually fell to sustainably stronger opposition on the final day of the competition. Despite the disappointing losses, Scott Russell, Elaine Montgomery, Shirley White, Ann Jamieson and Shirley Campbell all came away from Malage having been awarded 4th place European Championship Iron medal, in recognition of some high-quality performances against European powerhouse nations that included Latvia, Poland, Spain, Germany, Italy and Hungary.
Meanwhile, former Scotland & GB international Iain Maclean led the GB Maxis Men’s 50+ team, alongside fellow ex-Scotland point guard Frazer Birch, in the 50+ championship which would feature no less than 21 teams! Their first-round games saw them win 78-50 against Germany, followed by a loss to Hungary. A crucial second round loss to Italy (62-55) – eventual tournament gold medalists – meant that GB Maxis 50+ squad finished just outside the top 8 with wins over Switzerland and the GBR 50+ B team (FIMBA GB).
Similar fortunes befell GB Maxis Men’s 45+ team, which included ex-Scotland international Stuart Mackay (M45+),who battled hard against Serbia (losing 49-59) and Spain (53-66) but missed out on a quarter final place. Two further losses to Germany A and Switzerland saw them finish 13th. However, it’s been a valuable championship learning experience to build on.
GB Maxis Programme Director, Sadie Mason MBE and Training Camp Coordinator, Emma Parslow, commented:
“We couldn’t be prouder of everyone’s efforts. We can truly see the fruits of months of planning and preparation, and we are really pleased for (and appreciate) the programme leads, coaches, managers and sports science staff that have helped us achieve these fabulous European Championship performances. We set out to achieve top six placings in Europe and 6/8 teams achieved this.”
GB Maxibasketball is now accepting Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the 2022/23 programme for male and female players 35+, 40+, 45+, 50+, 55+, 60+, 65+, as well as Coaches, Team Managers and Performance Support Staff. The link to the EOI form for all new and returning participants is here.