U14 Boys Summer Slam Experience
The under 14 boys Development Squad program came to a conclusion at the basketballscotland SummerSlam over the weekend of the 8th-10th June.
The boys arrived in Edinburgh early Friday afternoon where they proudly picked up their kit for the weekend and checked in to their rooms to quickly try it on. For many, this was the first time in a Scotland strip. A team meal followed as the English and Northern Irish teams arrived and then we left for Meadowbank for the opening ceremony and opening game versus Ireland.
The team were greeted by a lone piper as they left the bus and the realisation set in that the boys were about to represent their country.
As Flower of Scotland was piped through the opening ceremony in front of a large crowd it was obvious the boys were a little nervous about the big occasion.
A quick huddle and focus on the task at hand and the boys regained their composure as they completed their warm up.
As the game tipped off it was time for the team to put in to practise all the skills they had worked on throughout Future Starz Programme and team training sessions. The boys started the game extremely well, through playing a high intensity man to man defense leading to a high paced transition offense. Northern Ireland looked shell shocked at the end of the first quarter which finished 24 to 3 in favour of the Scots.
The game continued like this with the team playing a high paced motion offense and man to man defense and all 12 players gaining valuable experience.
Finally, the game finished 88 to 34 in Scotland’s favour.
An early start the next morning saw the boys face Northern Ireland again at Portobello High School. The coaching staff took the opportunity to rotate the squad and rest a few of the more influential players. This, coupled with an Irish side desperate to redeem themselves made for an entertaining game.
Both sides played man to man defense and it was evident both were keen to encourage players to play motion offense and utilise on and off ball screens.
A tight half ended 24 to 24.
In the second half the boys knew they needed to step up. The noisy Portobello crowd really helped the team and a series of defensive stops and transition rebounding saw the Scottish side pull ahead and eventually win the game 57 to 40.
Captain David Milne stated “That was one of the best games I have ever played in. The play was intense from both sides, there was a lot of pressure and the crowd really helped us.”
In the afternoon the team were able to relax and watch the GB senior women take on Canada. The speed and intensity of this game positively inspired and motivated the U14 boys.
The next two games saw the boys face a very tall and athletic England side. Throughout these two games, The Scottish side played extremely well, learning to drive and kick to find the open man and also getting better at containing dribble penetration defensively. This was a huge learning experience and hugely beneficial to play such a great side.
Although the games ended 47 to 76 and 44 to 90 in favour of England, all 15 Scottish players gained the experience of playing against England and this will no doubt serve them well as they progress through the national team age groups.
Ali Mathieson from the West region stated “I had an absolutely great experience and loved the adrenaline in all the games, loved playing for my country and had best weekend ever.”
Finally there was time for some hugs and goodbyes as a hugely successful SummerSlam came to an end.
Coach Paul Boath stated “This has been a fantastic weekend of development and learning for each and every Scottish player. They now have to use the experience of playing against great teams in fantastic venues coupled with working on their fundamental skills to their advantage on what will hopefully be a long international career for each of them”.
The tournament also saw the end of year-long apprentice programme for assistant Coach Frazer Grant. It has been a great experience for the young coach who stated: “It’s fantastic as a young coach to be involved in such a player intense programme where individual skills fundamentals and teamwork always comes first. The kids have been a fantastic group and really enjoyable to work with. Their drive for the game is like no other I have seen. As to the weekend it’s was a fantastic opportunity for the boys and for all involved alike to be in such a vibrant atmosphere, the highlight of the tournament for me was when the boys played Ireland in such a close game on the Saturday morning, the crowd really got behind the boys, which got them on a high leading to them going on a role for the rest of the game.”