So, I got the semi-final results absolutely spot-on then! Mind you after that draw down at The Copper Box on Friday I did have a snigger at myself. But, The Vince of Darkness and his boys came through for me and perhaps it’s fitting that we will have the top two slugging it out at The O2.
Want me to pick a winner? Well, I’m never going to bet against The Riders as they always, always seem to find a way to get it done. Have done all season and somehow someway I reckon they will again next week.
However, if anyone can beat them then I reckon London can. Led by the Capital’s finest and my personal choice of BBL MVP, Justin Robinson, they are a tough, tough, tough outfit and there’s no doubting who the vast majority of the support is going to be for next Sunday is there?
But, that’s for Lions and Riders to decide and dispute. For us there’s very little left other than to lick our wounds and wave the 2018 Eagles good-bye. Fab, Darius and Drew will of course be around a while longer and The Williams boys, Jaysean and Jure are still around too at the moment.
But we’ve waved goodbye to Saah, AJ and Zarko who are all back home after their time in The Castle as the players commonly call it and I for one, and I’m sure you too, would like to wish them well, thank them for their efforts and wish them good fortune in whatever comes next in their careers and remember I’m not saying they won’t be back.
But, again, that’s for the future and that’s for the history books too and it’s too the history books I return for the reason for the title of this blog.
Back in December 2011, yes Dave, Fab and Eric it really was that long ago, The Eagles were invited to a basketball tournament held between Christmas and New Year in the town of Zwolle in The Netherlands. We went but didn’t quite conquer although we did poach!
The tournament was won by the home town team led by USA Point Guard Damon Huffman and Power Forward Kareem Maddox who both left indelible marks on our Head Coach and his assistant, Mr Forrester.
Fast forward nine months or so and misters Huffman and Maddox were Eagles for the 12/13 season. Now, it didn’t prove to be our greatest ever season for one or two reasons but these two certainly left a mark on our organisation with their slight uniqueness as well as basketball talent.
They were both Ivy League scholars, the Ivy League containing some of the finest USA Universities by far as well as NCAA Division 1 basketball programmes. Damon went to Brown University and Kareem, Princeton.
Alumni of Brown includes John F. Kennedy Jr., John D. Rockefeller and Emma Watson. Princeton includes 4 former US Presidents in its lists, JFK himself albeit briefly, Woodrow Wilson, James Madison and Grover Cleveland.
So, Damon and Kareem arrived on these shores to play ball, it might well be that they were two of the most intelligently educated individuals to play in The BBL and boy didn’t we know it! Damon was a veritable font of intelligent and sometimes too intelligent babble.
Whilst Kareem drank coffee immediately before a game and sometimes during it and when injured at Worcester that season was seen riding a very high-brow book on the bench before the game something one of the referees that night said he’d never seen.
They certainly were different this pair but, could they play. Well, they could. Damon averaged 14.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game whilst Kareem averaged 14.8 points, a league leading 10.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 steals and a third best BBL figure of 1.5 blocks per game. Pretty useful numbers from both.
At the end of that season we decided to move away from both although having talked with Paul B I gather we were very close to bringing Damon back. However, it seemed both were destined for other things and since then Damon hasn’t played professionally as such whilst Kareem only played one season in Poland.
Both though, unsurprisingly, are successful businessmen in their own right. But, what has any of this got to do with The Eagles, basketball and now, let alone the title of this blog?
Well, I receive a daily FIBA e-mail which outlines the goings on across the globe in basketball across all countries and tournaments. A couple or so weeks ago I read the following story.
“Princeton and Oregon win 2018 USA Basketball 3×3 National Championships.” The picture under the headline banner showed the four-man squad and lo and behold 50% of that squad were ex-Eagles Huffman and Maddox. The article continued.
“COLORADO SPRINGS (3×3) – Team Princeton (aka Ariel Slow & Steady) took home the 2018 USA Basketball 3×3 National Championships in the men’s category in Colorado Springs on April 21-22.
By beating Team 3Ball Minnesota in the final (21-14), Princeton not only became national champions, they also clinched their spot to the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Mexico City Masters on September 8-9.
The team had a perfect 8-0 record in Colorado Springs and got a nice boost from their latest addition, Kareem Maddox, who was named MVP of the tournament.
“To qualify for the Mexico Masters is really exciting,” star player Dan Mavraides said. “We are also qualified for the Saskatoon Masters, so a lot of hoops to play and a lot of 3×3 growth to come.”
Princeton earned their ticket to the Saskatoon Masters – where they made their World Tour debut last year – after winning the NBA Dew 3X Tour last year.”
So, there you have it, USA National Champions and ex-Eagles too. Now, it just so happens that I still have both Damon and Kareem’s e-mail addresses so never one to miss out on a story that I thought might interest you all, I contacted them both and both were delighted to reply.
Kareem will be up first, and he’s got a lot to say! On the 3×3, The Eagles, life after it and life in the future and guess what? Yep, you got it, the next blog will be his and entitled 3×3 Take 2.