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There’s not only a demand for UK women’s basketball but a passion for it.



Last night Courtsider took in the WBBL clash between the Caledonia Gladiators and the Newcastle Eagles at the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle, with 2000+ fans in attendance across 4 WBBL games.

This wasn’t the only WBBL action taking place, Newcastle WBBL Trophy semi-final opponents Leicester Riders were in action against Sevenoaks Suns after Manchester Mystics took on the Wildcats and Hatters defended home court again the Cardiff Met Archers.

Over 2000 fans attended these games in the WBBL, and whilst these figures are below that of the average attendance for the BBL, it’s a huge step in the right direction.

The Leicester Riders took the highest crown title from the Eagles after a bumper crowd of 1312 people took in the game against Sevenoaks Suns, which saw the Riders Women run out 62-44 winners, with recently crowned player of the month Ashley Arlen dropping 16 points and grabbing 8 boards.

The Eagles and Hatters also drew 350+ crowds respectively as they both closed out wins over their opponents in what was a clear sign that there is not only a demand for women’s basketball but a passion for it.

The trick for many clubs is going to be facilities, not every team is blessed with a Vertu Motors Arena, or a Morningside, and this is something that needs to be addressed in order for fans to be able to enjoy the game day experience.

But one thing is for sure, the women on the court are proving that they can draw a crowd and also entertain, gone are the days of women’s sports being seen as less competitive or less entertaining, these girls know how to play and they are prepared to risk life and limb to progress not only the fortunes of their organisation but of the sport in general.

Phil is the founder of Courtsider, a news and content brand passionate about British Basketball and the people within it.

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British Basketball

What are the London Lions up to ahead of the new WBBL season?



For those following the WBBL this week, you will have noticed a few posts from the London Lions that confirmed a huge number of players, including last seasons MVP Kiki Herbert-Harrigan, won’t be returning for the upcoming season.

A total of 9 players were are on that list, some were no surprise; both Paige Robinson and Azania Stewart had already confirmed their retirement from the game recently.

But what about the other 7?

Aside from the two retiring Lions, the following stars won’t be returning;

  • Kiki Herbert-Harrigan
  • Paulina Hersler
  • Ty Battle
  • Taylor Murray
  • Leslie Vorpahl
  • Shequila Joseph
  • Chantel Charles

Looking at the list, the common thread is that the majority of these players are imports.

With the exception of Joseph and Charles, the remaining players are from outside the UK, could it be that the Lions want to build a predominantly British Lions team ahead of next season?

Holly Winterburn could become the centre-piece of the Lions team this year. (Photo; British Basketball League)

I need to note that although Kiki has declared for GB ahead of this summers FIBA EuroBasket, she has yet to feature in any practice photos released by GB, or feature in the recent defeat to Czech Republic.

Whilst no official confirmation on their status for next season has been announced, the Lions current roster looks like this;

  • Holly Winterburn
  • Shanice Beckford-Norton
  • Katsiaryna Syntsina
  • Grace Strickland
  • Fatmata Janneh

With the exception of Syntsina, the players above are British, with the final two names; Strickland and Janneh both products of Barking Abbey.

Another route the lions could be exploring of course, is one that gives younger players, such as Janneh and Strickland, some game time and a chance to learn from some experienced stars such as Syntsina and Beckford-Norton.

It certainly seems that the Lions have a plan for the youth setup following the news earlier in the year that they have ended their relationship with Barking Abbey.

Now it is possible that some of the players on the list of players not returning could actually still return, one thing is certain about British Basketball is that nothing is ever 100%!

Lions fans will no doubt be disappointed that MVP Herbert-Harrigan won’t be returning but will take comfort in the fact that GB superstar Holly Winterburn appears to be committed to the franchise.

Could the plan be the build the team around her? I guess we’ll see soon enough…

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British Basketball

Return of The Mack: Mackenzie Re-signs with Riders



Leicester Riders are excited to announce the return of point guard Kimbal Mackenzie for the 2023/24 season.

Mackenzie, who signed a one-year deal, has proved a fan-favourite in his two seasons in Leicester, earning the Supporters Club Player of the Year last season – voted for by the Riders faithful.

His 12.7 points and 3.8 assists also saw him named on the Molten BBL British Team of the Year alongside teammate Patrick Whelan.

“Kimbal has been excellent for us and we are thrilled to have him back at the club. We have enjoyed working with him these past two seasons, he is a player who comes ready to play every day,” reflected Head Coach Rob Paternostro.

“He is a versatile guard who can be effective in many different spots on the floor and has shown the ability to make winning plays in important moments of the game.”

“His ability to fill different roles last seasons was very impressive.”

Mackenzie put in countless team-leading performances throughout the 2022/23 season, perhaps none better than his 31-point explosion against the Cheshire Phoenix in February. He went 11-15 from the field and 7-7 from the free-throw line in the Riders’ 105-91 win.

“My family and I are thrilled to be returning to Leicester for my third season,” commented Kimbal. “The experience that we have had within the city and with the fans has been amazing. I look forward to continuing the winning ways of the Riders. Since day one, Leicester has felt like home, and in the business of being a professional athlete, it can be rare to be with the same team for multiple years, so I’m thankful for that.”

“I’m happy to still be playing in front of the best fans in the league! A fanbase that makes Morningside one of the best home court advantages in the league, and fans that frequently travel across the country to support us.”

“In deciding to come back, it’s the culture that Coach Rob has built for years that played a big part. Rob is a players’ coach, and the ultimate competitor, someone who I love going to battle with. I look forward to playing with a great group of guys, and to winning a lot of basketball games!”

Mackenzie’s form earned him his first callup to the Great Britain Senior squad, making his 
debut in a FIBA World Cup Qualifier against Serbia in Belgrade.

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British Basketball

Vince Macaulay joins fellow coaches at Hoopsfix Coaching Clinic



Former Manchester Giants GM & Head Coach Vince Macaulay has joined fellow coaches, including Bristol Flyers play-caller Andreas Kapoulas, at this years Hoopsfix all-star classic coaching clinic.

In what seemed like a very vague and disjointed announcement, Vince and his assistant Nigel Lloyd were relieved of their duties in three separate announcements over the space of a fortnight.

Today’s clinic, the first of a two-day Hoopsfix All-Star Classic weekend, will be Vince’s first public appearance since the news of his departure was announced.

Judging by the one photo released by Hoopsfix, Vince looks his usual, relaxed and charismatic self, an experienced public speaker, at his best talking about the game of basketball.

Nothing has been announced as far as his next move is concerned however I don’t think it will be too long before we see Vince back on the sidelines!

Photos and Featured Image: Hoopsfix

What is the Hoopsfix All-Star Classic?

The Hoopsfix All-Star Classic is back for its ninth year with the 2023 edition taking place over two days at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

The event will be streamed live in its entirety as the venue is soldout for the second successive year at Crystal Palace on Sunday. 

Follow @Hoopsfix and @HoopsfixWomen on all platforms for all the latest action from across the event. Also search and use #HASC23 across all channels.

Information and livestreams can be accessed here.

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