Rollers battle hard in European leagues

Rollers battle hard in European leagues

A number of Australian Rollers wheelchair basketballers are hitting their straps in Europe at the moment, led by star player Tristan Knowles. With finals being battled out, here’s an update on how our Aussies are faring.

With his team Valladolid, Knowles and the side came close to a title in the Spanish league for the first time in the club’s history (it’s the first time the club has qualified for the Champion’s Cup final round), finishing in the final four. 

They clinched a silver medal in the King’s Cup (Spanish National Cup) in a thrilling final against Fundosa Madrid, which went into overtime. Knowles’ heroics led the side and was deadly from range, particularly down the stretch. His performance won him a spot in the All Star 5 for the tournament.

Fellow Aussies, Brad Ness and Michael Hartnett, both playing for Elecom Sport Roma this year won the Italian Supercappa (competition between the winner of the past league and the winner of the past national cup, where Elecom always finished behind Santa Lucia Roma).

It was the club’s first trophy ever and their first Italian National Cup. They finished second in the Italian regular season and they qualified for the Champion’s Cup Final Round, before succumbing to Valladolid, missing out on the semi finals.

Bill Latham is playing in Toledo at the moment, in the Spanish League. Having finished third in their classification, Latham’s side still have a chance to take out the competition, but only if they win their remaining games, while hoping Valladolid drop all of theirs.

A strong team, they deserved to be right up there, but couldn’t gel as well as they needed to be right at the top.

At the other end of the spectrum is Kim Robbins, who finds himself in the tough position of working to keep his side from relegation. A difficult task, individually Robbins is having a stellar season, and hopefully his team can win enough games to stay up at the top.

Shawn Russell meanwhile is playing for Vigo in the Spanish league, and the side finds themselves in the middle of the pack. With a new coach on board, the side is looking to improve.  

With a young and inexperienced Italian team around him at Porto Torres, Luke Pope led the side to a Second Division title. In the Italian National Cup, they beat First Division side Cantu` and surprisingly qualified for a European final round, the Brinkman Cup.

Luke was playing well, averaging 15 points per game. They went on to beat the third and fourth team in France, the third and seventh team in Spain, ultimately losing to France’s top side, Meaux in the finals.  

In the Italian first division, Scott Crowley played for PMB, and his side finished fifth. His side competed in the Vergauwen Cup and finished seventh.

Finally, Michael D’Amelio’s German side the Kolin 99ers finished third in the German national league, and he picked up a silver in the Vergauwen Cup, which is considered the second top European Cup. They lost to Besiktas of Istanbul, but despite this, it was a very successful season for Michael and the side, being their first trip to the European Cup.