Last week, ADM Econy BSR ACE Gran Canaria announced that double World Champion, James MacSorley will be joining them for the 2019/20 season. The Northern Irish native and former Sheffield Steelers player spoke with Dylan Cummings, Rollt’s English-speaking Content Producer about why he has decided to return to Spain.
Why did you choose to move to Gran Canaria?
“After two great years at Steelers, I had a really cool opportunity in front of me to play for a great team with a great group of players in the best league in the world. This also gives me a chance to have a great quality of life for myself and my girlfriend. I jumped at the opportunity to take on this challenge and I can’t wait to get started.”
How do you intend to fit into the team?
“I will do whatever is asked of me to help the team win, whilst trying to develop how I play to constantly improve for both club and international levels.”
You have played in Spain before for Zaragoza before, what will be similar or different this time round?
“At the time I was playing in the first division whilst also studying. This time round it will be a far higher level of basketball with different demands in terms of training and lifestyle with it being full time, as well as a lot more travel.”
What new challenges do you think you will face in the Division de Honour?
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge of playing against the best players in the world every week. I strongly believe this is the best league in the world and that was one of the big reasons why I made the move.”
How do you think the styles of play will differ between Steelers and Gran Canaria?
“To be honest I’m not sure, we played a very fast paced style of basketball at Steelers because of who we had on our team this year so we may play slower than that this year, but the key is being able to adapt how you play to the situation.”
With Steelers you have pretty much steamrolled through every team over the last two years in the British league. The Division de Honour will be a lot more competitive, how do you think this will benefit you personally?
“As I’ve said, I have made this move to test myself against the best of the best every week, and I feel like it’s on me to react in the best way to the pressure that comes with that. With Steelers you look forward to EuroLeague every year and to playing Oldham Owls three times in a season. I think having games to look forward to every weekend will help motivate me to improve my game.”
What are your goals for next season?
“I haven’t really set any goals in terms of team success. Personally, I want to keep improving and testing myself continually, and hopefully we can win a lot of games.”
How has GB been preparing for the European Championships?
“I unfortunately have been in hospital during the start of their summer preparations with an unexpected medical issue but the lads were at a warm weather training camp in Slovenia working hard in some serious heat last week, so that’ll help kick off their preparation for the Europeans nicely.”
How has the GB centralised programme helped improve your game over the last two years?
“Being involved in the centralised programme has given me such a great opportunity to improve over the last two years. The guidance by the coaches and being around the highest level of players has changed my game immeasurably in the last two seasons.”
How much do you think Spanish culture will differ from Northern Irish culture?
“I honestly think I had the best year of my life in Spain the last time and I believe a lot of that was due to the culture out there. The food, the people and their attitude towards life are things I really grew to appreciate. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and chilling out in the sun when I’m not training.”
What will you miss the most about Northern Ireland when you are abroad?
“My family and friends, definitely. I’ve been away from Belfast three out of the last four years, I always miss it and love coming back. It’s a great city that’s really growing in the right direction, so I miss the actual place too at times.”
How important is it to you to be an ambassador for wheelchair basketball in Northern Ireland?
“I honestly don’t think about it too much, and I’m not sure how much of an ambassador I actually am, but if that’s the case I don’t take it for granted. There have been people from Northern Ireland before me who represented GB who I looked up to and there will be people after me. I’m just trying my best to do right by the people who have believed in me while keeping the door open for the next group.”
How would you describe your style of play?
“Oh, I’m not sure actually. I think that’s part of the reason I’m going to Spain, to figure that out. I can play a few different styles and roles depending on what the team needs, which I’d say is a good thing.”
Has anyone specifically influenced you to play the way you do?
“I have had many great influences over the years, growing up playing alongside Paul McKillop as another 2.0 from Belfast helped me starting out to figure out how I should be playing. The rest of it comes from watching other 2.0s, all my coaches and from fitting in around my other GB teammates as much as possible.”
What piece(s) of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?
“Always be ready.” – Joe Williams
“Don’t be afraid to wang it at me.” – Stevie Owen
“Just keep shooting the ball.” – Jason Kennedy
“Always remember, I’m option one.” – Paul McKillop
If you could do a training session with two or three other players from anywhere in the world male or female to improve your skills, which players would you choose and why?
“I’m very lucky that I have a great group of guys to play with every day and I have played with some great players in the past. I would love to witness what Patrick Anderson and Steve Serio do in their one-on-one sessions as it looks like there is a lot of great skill work involved.”
James MacSorley Profile
Date of Birth: 13/02/1995 (aged 24)
Hometown: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Started playing: 2001
GB senior debut: 2018 World Championships
Disability: Spina Bifida
Future club: ADM Econy BSR ACE Gran Canaria, ESP (starting September 2019)
_NI Knights, GBR (2001-15, 2016-17)
_Sheffield Steelers, GBR (2013-14, 2017-19)
_CAI Zaragoza, ESP (2015-16)
_2017 U23 World Champion – Toronto, Canada
_2018 World Champion – Hamburg, Germany
Rollt. would like to thank James MacSorley for this interview.
Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Steffie Wunderl