Success in Wales, both on and off the court for Team NI’s U15 boys!

Team NI U15 Boys have won both on and off the court with a successful trip away to Basketball Wales with the newly formed Team NI Performance Pathway fund at the core of their success. Along with the U15 Girls, U17B and U17G and Senior men’s and women’s programmes this past weekend marks another step in developing a culture for togetherness and an important performance pathway milestone for the basketball community of Basketball Northern Ireland supported by Sport Northern Ireland.

August 2023, saw the beginning of a new look and reformed performance pathway Team NI (formally a non-funded player participation pathway called Team BNI and BNI Academies) with the support of Sport Northern Ireland funding that was initiated through Basketball NI’s strategic development through the current board. Starting with a short window for the Under 15 boys and girls teams playing in the newly formed “Celtic Invitational 2023” BNI invited Basketball Wales U15 boys and the ladies from Dublin Area Board to Ulster University Centre of Excellence for Basketball.

“It was almost a jump start to the Team NI programme, Basketball NI had done anything from 2019 and even then this wasn’t the same type of programme,August gave us a good starting point and baseline for the beginnings of our pathway. Although we lost to Wales at home, we as a coaching staff were really excited about what we seen in front of us, the first game was a shell shock for the players losing by 30, then respectfully by 10 and the following day by 6. There was a lot of learnings that came from that experience for all for the boys but it really help get everyone to buy into the process. As the great Coach, Pat Summit, always said “Winning is fun, but winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point. Not giving up is the point. Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.”

Marc Mulholland, Vice Chair of BNI & Head Coach U15B

A number of players who played in August 23 were selected to play again this past weekend and that brought with it those learnings along with Captain Conall Gallagher (Newry Fliers) Oisin Holman (Phoenix BC), Josh Cunningham (Newry Fliers), Jude O’Carroll ( Belfast Star & Vice Captain) and Layden O’Neill (Belfast Star).

New additions in James Kennedy (Phoenix BC), Liam Carson (Phoenix BC), Finn Dolliver (Queens BC), Kyran Houlihan (Newry Fliers), Dallan Holman (Phoenix BC) and Jay Jay Ogunleye (Belfast Star) completed Head Coach Mulholland’s 12 man squad.

A number of players had stand out performances, supported by a great team effort. Layden O’Neill (Belfast Star), Kyran Houlihan (Newry Fliers) Liam Carson (Phoenix BC), Raimondas Terleckis (BC Wolves) and Jay Jay Ogunleye (Belfast Star) who put two big defensive performance across the games.

“To highlight Kyran as a great example of the culture, environment and type of mindset we want to create with Team NI. Kyran narrowly missed out on selection in August 23. He came into the programme with an unbelievable attitude. Through his club development and his own personal drive developed his skillset for a high performance environment. Personally, he reminded me of a young Kieron Donaghy, similar in basketball style on both ends of the floor and has a GAA background that can bring with it an unorthodox skillset into basketball, which made him a really difficult player for Basketball Wales to try and contain. In Game 1 he put in a great performance with 24 points (47% FG) and 17 rebounds for the team which helped carry momentum into Game 2. A performance supported by Layden O’Neill, who is another talent with a really bright future ahead of him contributed very efficiently 25 points (52% FG, 66% 3PT, 4/4 FT%) and 12 rebounds.

That, along with great team contributions across the panel, we managed to win the moments of the game, helping us achieve success in the right manner. If we are looking at a return for investment on this pathway for Sport Northern Ireland’s, we need look no further than the a 45+ point swing over a 7 month pathway, which sets a bar for this programme and the future investment for our young players and sport. With the right resources, time, preparation and education in the performance pathway, there is no reason the sport, coaches and its players can flourish as a result.”

Marc Mulholland, Vice Chair & Head Coach U15B

A big addition to Basketball NI’s resources with Team NI was the hiring of Andy Gill as their part-time Performance Pathway Coordinator. Although the role is 20 hours per week this has been a vital role that has normally been a lead by a volunteer. Andy brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience which helps align the entire Pathway with regards to Coach Education and sense checking coaches through our Team NI Playbook, Talent ID and Player Performance, Pathway Strategy and Support Services along with logistical experience that spans over a mature career.

“Team NI is the ignition tool for the development of high performance within Basketball Northern Ireland. It allows us to set our structures within an environment that gives our players the best chance to develop their full potential. We can encompass all the interweaving support that is so vital in the performance arena.”

Andy Gill – Performance Pathway Coordinator

An important area for Andy Gill when taking on this role was to also look at Performance Coach development. BNI, Commonwealth Games NI and Sport NI have recognised there is a lack of opportunities for our coaches to learn and develop in and this is something that Andy Gill is passionate about Team NI delivering on,

“The three keys to the development of performance are the provision and access to a high-performance resources and quality coaching.  There is no substitute for testing how our players compete and placing demands on our coaches, than in the competitive environment of international games. That is where the true test of both a player’s abilities and the coaches technical knowledge is shown.”

Continued Andy.

I would like to thank Head of Performance in Basketball Wales, Phil Gordos and CEO Gavin Williams and the whole Welsh basketball community for the opportunity to begin our new journey with Team NI in the Welsh capital. As the home of my alma mater, I know we are always assured of a warm welcome and the chance to compete against true friends of Basketball Northern Ireland . Of course, it was great to come out with a couple of wins but what was more important was the chance for our players to compete and grow within our high-performance culture. I am sure we will continue to develop the great relationship we have with Welsh basketball.”

Team NI selected 12 players after an autumn and winter window of performance development starting with performance camps in October 23 that continued throughout the Christmas break and then into the new year of 2024.

“It’s been a great number of months for the Team NI programme, I personally would like to thank all of the players who participated throughout the process over the past 7 months. You have all represented your clubs, communities, families and yourselves with great maturity during this time. We have taken a lot of learnings from this short window which we know will be valuable for everyone going forward. I would additionally like to thank our management, coaching and support team who all worked across a tight schedule to help deliver something new for our players on this pathway. Thanks to Associate Head Coach Michael McCabe, Assistant Coach Stephen Fox and Assistant Coach Conor Liston who have all contributed massively to date and passed on great knowledge to our players during this process. We all look forward to preparing for the summer window so we can continue to build the pathway which will hopefully have impact for years to come in the sport.”

Marc Mulholland, Vice Chair & Head Coach

Back Row L-R – Head Coach Marc Mulholland, Jude O’Carroll – 8 (Vice Captain & Belfast Star), Raimondas Terleckis- 15 (BC Wolves), James Kennedy – 14 (Phoenix BC), Liam Carson -13 (Phoenix BC), Layden O’Neill-12 (Belfast Star), Finn Dolliver – 11 (Queens BC), Kyran Houlihan -10 (Newry Fliers), Andy Gill – Pathway Performance Coordinator, Associate Head Coach – Michael McCabe. Front Row L-R Dallan Holman – 4 (Phoenix BC), Oisin Holman- 6 (Phoenix BC), Conall Gallagher-5 (Captain – Newry Fliers) , Josh Cunningham -7 (Newry Fliers), Jay Jay Ogunleye- 9 (Belfast Star)

Game 1 – Result – Cymru 78 vs 97 Team NI

Full boxscore ➡️…/2406991/

Basketball Wales v Team Northern Ireland (Game 2)

18th February 2024

Full Game Video

Full Box Score –
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