US stars showcase their skills

Bexhill Giants chairman Eric Douglin (left) with USA Select (white team) head coach Nicholas Melissaris
Bexhill Giants chairman Eric Douglin (left) with USA Select (white team) head coach Nicholas Melissaris

Bexhill played host to some excellent basketball action with the long-awaited visit of the USA Select Basketball organisation.

The Americans came to town as part of their European Exposure Tour and competed in three events hosted by the ADA Bexhill Giants at Bexhill Leisure Centre.

The week started with the Hastings Direct-sponsored International Tournament which saw the Giants joined by USA Select (Blue Team), Sussex champions BC Crawley United and National League side Sussex Bears in a four-team round-robin event.

A fast-paced day of basketball action played in a competitive spirit resulted in some excellent matches, and spectators were treated to some athletic and energetic play from all teams.

The quality of the USA team was evident as they won all of their three matches against the English sides and were crowned champions.

The domestic clubs all finished with one victory and two defeats after some close-fought contests, but the Giants were runners-up by virtue of their victory over Crawley.

The Hastings Direct International Trophy was presented to the USA Select team and their coach David Lawrence by the Mayor of Bexhill, Cllr Brian Kentfield.

Two days later, the second USA Select team (White) competed in an exhibition match against the Giants, which was preceded by a youth coaching clinic for local youngsters run by USA Select coach Nicholas Melissaris and his players.

The youngsters then stayed behind to watch the match which resulted in a comprehensive victory for the far superior USA team.

The following evening saw USA Select (White) return to compete in another exhibition match against a Sussex Select team made up of players from the Sussex Basketball League.

Again the match was played in an excellent and competitive spirit, but the USA Select players - who are showcasing their talents across Europe in the hope of securing professional contracts - had too much skill and experience for the Sussex side and recorded their second comfortable win in two days.

The results were immaterial, though, as the main purpose of the events was to promote basketball across the area.

Giants chairman Eric Douglin said: “What a great few days we had with the visit of USA Select Basketball to the town. Their coaches and players are excellent ambassadors for the sport.

“We were privileged to be included in their European Exposure Tour and look forward to their return next year. The club would like to thank our sponsors, helpers, referees and spectators for their support.”