Wolves duo Kai and Kalil played well in England debut

PRIDE OF ENGLAND: Worcester Wolves star Kalil Irving made his international bow against Ireland.

PRIDE OF ENGLAND: Worcester Wolves star Kalil Irving made his international bow against Ireland.

First published in Sport

HAVING two players feature for the England team is further proof of the progress being made by Worcester Wolves.

Both Kai Williams and Kalil Irving were involved in the match against Ireland which took place before last Sunday’s British Basketball League Cup final between Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders at the National Indoor Arena.

Although Ireland won the contest by three points it was a tight game and a good advert for the sport.

In my role as England coach, which is something I do alongside being director of basketball at Worcester, it’s nice to work with different players and reward them for their efforts with their BBL teams.

It was the first time Kai or Kalil have played at senior England level and they both did themselves proud and played pretty well.

Their places were well-deserved because both of them have done a good job at Wolves, and in particular Kalil, since bursting on to the scene at the start of the season.

Combining the two roles during the season is difficult but exciting.

I couldn’t get the England players together prior to that game because some of them were playing the day before.

It was a matter of just turning up on the day of the game but these guys are talented and pick things up pretty quick.

I also had the opportunity to look at players who might not normally get experience at that level.

There are no England games for the moment so it is now a case of looking at what we’re going to be doing over the summer with the national team.

If everything goes well, hopefully, we might be able to have a couple of international games at the new Worcester Arena.

As it happened, Leicester won the BBL Cup final 85-80 and I think it was another fantastic advert for the sport in this country.

The crowd of 7,500 was the biggest the final has attracted for a while and, as well as the England versus Ireland game beforehand, they had cheerleaders and professional slam-dunkers.

It was a fantastic event and it just shows that if you go out and market the game properly what can actually be done.

Wolves are aspiring to play in these sort of matches and I think we’re making gradual steps to do that. We are still in the BBL Trophy and play Newcastle Eagles in the last eight next month.

The last time Leicester won silverware was back in 2001, and prior to that they hadn’t won anything, so sometimes it takes a while but if you keep perservering you’ve got a chance.

Leicester have shown that. They have done a tremendous job this year and it’s nice to have a different name on the cup.

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