The Canarias Basketball Academy comes to the UK next week to take on three BBL teams and an EBL D1 side. How will the young ballers stack up against some of Britain’s best?

If you don’t already know what the Canarias Basketball Academy is, watch the following video – which I shot in September last year.

Now you’re familiar, we’ll continue.

The CBA will arrive in Britain next week for a four day tour which will see them match up against a number of British clubs – including Plymouth Raiders (November 23, Pavilions 7.15), Worthing Thunder (24th, Worthing Leisure centre 8pm), BBL Trophy Finalists Guildford Heat (25th, Surrey Sports Park, 8pm) and EBL Division One team Leeds Carnegie (26th, 6pm).

Among the CBA staff is former Worcester Wolves assistant coach Chris Mayes, who’s hugely excited about the tour.

“It’s going to be a real challenge for our guys to play the physical and fast-paced basketball that BBL teams have to offer,” he said.

“We are always looking to provide our players with the toughest competition possible. We’ve already been on some great tours this season to Barcelona and Tenerife – where we’ve beaten LEB Silver, EBA and ACB development teams. So we’re really looking forward to testing ourselves against full-time professionals.

“When I was planning the tour, I was really happy with the response I got from a lot of teams in the BBL and EBL – but obviously because of fixture commitments and lack of venues, we have had to restrict it to 4 games.

“Unfortunately we can’t get a seated venue for the Worthing and Guildford games but tickets are on sale for the games against Plymouth and Leeds. Nevertheless, it’s a great start as we are looking to make this a regular tour for the Academy as the standard just keeps on getting better and better each year.”

Life at the Academy is tough in terms of the schedule and workload. But Mayes is loving the great working environment – and the opportunity to continue learning his trade alongside some of the best coaching talent around.

“For me, it’s not just the 300 days of sunshine that is the major plus. It is great to wake up every day and not have to worry about things like lack of facilities etc. Here we are able to provide over thirty-plus hours practice time a week to these guys from Sunday to Friday, and not have to listen to people complain that the basketballs are making to much noise and disturbing their badminton game.

“The coaching staff are great here too. Working for head coach and director Rob Orellana is a completely different experience – I have never worked for a guy that has so much passion and drive for the development of his players. He makes you feel and believe that you are part of something unique. It’s like you are part of a family here and, because of that, it provides a extremely competitive and successful environment.”

Within the last three years, the academy has helped 14 British players to secure full NCAA Division 1 scholarships:

Ashley Hamilton (Loyola Marymount)
Phil Wait (St. Johns – Monmouth College)
Sam Fernley (Fairleigh Dickenson)
Richard Clarke (St. Francis College (NY))
Tom Ward (St. Francis College (NY))
Fahro Alihodzic (Fordham University)
Meneilk Watson (Marist)
Ben Daniels (Houston Baptist University)
Jason Beharie (Morehead)
Tom Pereira (Rider)
Daniel James (Monmouth University)
Aaron Geramipoor (Seton Hall)
Danny Thompson (Fordham University)
Abdi Ahmed (University of Oklahoma)

Many more have also obtained Division 2 and NAIA Scholarships – with Mayes and his colleagues keen to highlight the benefits of players looking to the Acedemy.

“We are aiming for at least 20 players this season to obtain NCAA D1 scholarships. And with university top up fees going through the roof, I really do believe that it’s an extremely worthwhile investment to provide youngsters with realistic opportunities not just in basketball, but education as well, which are hard to come by at home.

“During the tour I encourage anyone that is interested in joining the Academy to come down to any one of the four venues to meet the players and coaching staff and find out what CBA can do for you.”

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